“Writing offers a falling away of something; a loss of judgment, a quieting of rumination. It’s hard to make the case for the value of astonishment, but you couldn’t live a day without it.”
-George Saunders, episode 303 of Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso
Today, George Saunders returns! We discuss Liberation Day, his first short-story collection in nine years (3:40), the influence of Chekhov and Gogol (4:56), and a timely passage on democracy from “Love Letter” (8:35). Then, we unpack how he builds stories (13:30), a guiding philosophy from our first talk (14:58), and an excerpt from the titular story, “Liberation Day” (21:30).
On the back-half, we talk about the power of revision through “Elliott Spencer” (27:40), the seeds of the book’s moving final story, “My House” (36:34), the ‘failures in compassion’ it reveals (40:50), Saunders’ enduring relationship with his wife (45:08), and how he hopes to continue surprising himself as a writer, at 63 (48:40).
- Purchase George’s new short-story collection, Liberation Day.
- Learn more about his previous books including A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, Lincoln in the Bardo, and Tenth of December.
- Hear our first sit-down with George back in 2021.
- Read his short stories “Love Letter” and “Elliott Spencer” in The New Yorker.
- For more conversations, hear our talks with David Sedaris, Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Gilbert, Ocean Vuong, Margo Jefferson, Sandra Cisneros, and Nick Offerman.
- Order your Talk Easy mug in cream and navy or our vinyl record with Fran Lebowitz.
Original illustration by Krishna Shenoi.