George Saunders


George Saunders is a New York Times bestselling American writer of short stories, essays, novellas and children’s books. In 2000, The New Yorker named him one of the “Best Writers Under 40.” He writes regularly for The New Yorker and Harper’s, as well as Esquire, GQ, and The New York Times Magazine.

My Definition Of Success | For me, real success would mean becoming more clear and loving in all things – more generous and less anxious.  I also want these qualities to show up in my writing – to make my stories more big-hearted and spacious.

I Am Driven By | I think it’s just a very natural feeling that life is beautiful and very interesting.  I wake up in the morning feeling that way and eager to get to work, and sort of pay tribute to that feeling of love for life.

A Key Talent | One thing you can learn by working on writing is to be in touch with your own reactions to your work, and trust those reactions.  This lesson can move out into your life as well.  You can learn to watch your own mind as you move through the world, and trust your reaction, and adjust your actions accordingly.  The only thing that stops progress is our (very natural) tendency to deny or suppress our reactions to things.  As long as we listen to those feelings, things are always workable.

Principles I Live By | Try to really believe, with all your heart, that other people are as real and valid as you are.  They want the same things, love the same things, fear the same things, even if they seem not to. You might not always be right about them, but it’s a good place to start.

How I Use My Mind | I believe strongly in meditation – in our ability to observe our own minds and thus learn who and what we really are.  I also believe in trying to suspend judgment as long as possible.  I love this quite, from the movie “Philadelphia Story”:  “The time to make up your mind about people is never.”

Performing At My Peak | Well, I think it’s important to understand that you won’t always perform at your peak.  If you are doing something worthwhile, you will encounter all sorts of peaks and valleys.  So I think the trick is to keep your sense of humor so you can ride through the bad times.  I guess this amounts to a kind of slow patience: you are interested in the task and are willing to take it just as it is – if it turns out to be harder than you thought, well, good – that means it is even more worthy than you first thought (i.e., it is a worthy opponent).

My Future Dreams And Ambitions | I’d like to write a really beautiful book.  I mean a REALLY beautiful book.

The Meaning Of Life | To grow in love.  That’s it.  We exist in a state in which we have access to infinite love and luminosity but our habits and obstructions keep us feeling only a tiny portion of it.  So I believe this life is a mad dash to open ourselves up to that light within us.

I Am Inspire d By | I am inspired by the writers Chekhov, Tobias Wolff, Tolstoy, Toni Morrison, Nikolai Gogol.  Also by Bill Clinton, the Dalai Lama, and by my wife and children.

The Legacy I Would Like To Leave | I’d like to be known as a kind person who felt a lot of love for life, and conveyed this in the way I lived and related to other people.

Interview Questions

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