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Liberation Day
Cover of Liberation Day
Liberation Day
Stories
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “One of our most inventive purveyors of the form returns with pitch-perfect, genre-bending stories that stare into the abyss of our national character. . . . An exquisite work from a writer whose reach is galactic.”—Oprah Daily
 
Booker Prize winner George Saunders returns with his first collection of short stories since the New York Times bestseller Tenth of December.

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, Oprah Daily, NPR, Time, USA Today, The Guardian, Esquire, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, Library Journal

The “best short-story writer in English” (Time) is back with a masterful collection that explores ideas of power, ethics, and justice and cuts to the very heart of what it means to live in community with our fellow humans. With his trademark prose—wickedly funny, unsentimental, and exquisitely tuned—Saunders continues to challenge and surprise: Here is a collection of prismatic, resonant stories that encompass joy and despair, oppression and revolution, bizarre fantasy and brutal reality.
“Love Letter” is a tender missive from grandfather to grandson, in the midst of a dystopian political situation in the (not too distant, all too believable) future, that reminds us of our obligations to our ideals, ourselves, and one another. “Ghoul” is set in a Hell-themed section of an underground amusement park in Colorado and follows the exploits of a lonely, morally complex character named Brian, who comes to question everything he takes for granted about his reality. In “Mother’s Day,” two women who loved the same man come to an existential reckoning in the middle of a hailstorm. In “Elliott Spencer,” our eighty-nine-year-old protagonist finds himself brainwashed, his memory “scraped”—a victim of a scheme in which poor, vulnerable people are reprogrammed and deployed as political protesters. And “My House”—in a mere seven pages—comes to terms with the haunting nature of unfulfilled dreams and the inevitability of decay.
Together, these nine subversive, profound, and essential stories coalesce into a case for viewing the world with the same generosity and clear-eyed attention Saunders does, even in the most absurd of circumstances.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • “One of our most inventive purveyors of the form returns with pitch-perfect, genre-bending stories that stare into the abyss of our national character. . . . An exquisite work from a writer whose reach is galactic.”—Oprah Daily
 
Booker Prize winner George Saunders returns with his first collection of short stories since the New York Times bestseller Tenth of December.

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, The New Yorker, Oprah Daily, NPR, Time, USA Today, The Guardian, Esquire, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, Library Journal

The “best short-story writer in English” (Time) is back with a masterful collection that explores ideas of power, ethics, and justice and cuts to the very heart of what it means to live in community with our fellow humans. With his trademark prose—wickedly funny, unsentimental, and exquisitely tuned—Saunders continues to challenge and surprise: Here is a collection of prismatic, resonant stories that encompass joy and despair, oppression and revolution, bizarre fantasy and brutal reality.
“Love Letter” is a tender missive from grandfather to grandson, in the midst of a dystopian political situation in the (not too distant, all too believable) future, that reminds us of our obligations to our ideals, ourselves, and one another. “Ghoul” is set in a Hell-themed section of an underground amusement park in Colorado and follows the exploits of a lonely, morally complex character named Brian, who comes to question everything he takes for granted about his reality. In “Mother’s Day,” two women who loved the same man come to an existential reckoning in the middle of a hailstorm. In “Elliott Spencer,” our eighty-nine-year-old protagonist finds himself brainwashed, his memory “scraped”—a victim of a scheme in which poor, vulnerable people are reprogrammed and deployed as political protesters. And “My House”—in a mere seven pages—comes to terms with the haunting nature of unfulfilled dreams and the inevitability of decay.
Together, these nine subversive, profound, and essential stories coalesce into a case for viewing the world with the same generosity and clear-eyed attention Saunders does, even in the most absurd of circumstances.
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About the Author-
  • George Saunders is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of eleven books, including A Swim in a Pond in the Rain; Lincoln in the Bardo, which won the Booker Prize; Congratulations, by the Way; Tenth of December, a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the inaugural Folio Award; The Braindead Megaphone; and the critically acclaimed collections CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Pastoralia, and In Persuasion Nation. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.
Reviews-
  • Library Journal

    May 1, 2022

    Booker Prize winner Saunders returns with a pungent collection featuring characters ranging from a man advising his grandson during futuristic dystopian times, an octogenarian whose memory has been scraped in a project to reprogram the less fortunate as political protesters, and a man working the hell-themed section of an amusement park who starts rethinking his presumptions in life.

    Copyright 2022 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    August 15, 2022
    What can't George Saunders do? On the basis of his work since Tenth of December (2013), the answer seems to be nothing at all. The stories in that collection marked a turning point in a career that already seemed remarkable, a deepening of empathy and scope. In the works that followed--the astonishing novel Lincoln in the Bardo (2017) and last year's A Swim in the Pond in the Rain, which, among other things, may be the greatest craft book ever assembled--Saunders has revealed himself to be nothing less than an American Gogol: funny, pointed, full of nuance, and always writing with a moral heart. This, his first book of short fiction in nearly a decade, only cements the validity of such a point of view. The nine pieces here are smart and funny, speculative yet at the same time written on a human scale, narratives full of love and loss and longing and the necessity of trying to connect. Dedicated readers will recognize five stories from the New Yorker, but they only grow upon rereading, revealing new depths. "Ghoul" recalls Saunders' magnificent CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, taking place in a subterranean amusement park where employees wait for visitors who never come. Brutally punished for the slightest infractions, the narrator, Brian, comes to a radical decision: "Though I will not live to see it," he tells us, "...may these words play some part in bringing the old world down." This notion of upheaval, or collapse, also motivates "Elliott Spencer," about an elderly man reprogrammed to be a crisis actor of sorts in political protests, and "A Thing at Work," where an escalating office dispute disrupts life outside the workplace. "He had kids. He had a mortgage," a character reflects about the potential fallout. "This was the real world." What Saunders is addressing is not just identity, but also responsibility, to each other and to ourselves. This emerges most fully in the title effort, a Severance-like saga set in an alternate reality, where three workers, known as "Speakers"--there are also "Singers"--are indentured to entertain a family. A tour de force collection that showcases all of Saunders' many skills.

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    August 1, 2022
    Prior to his Booker Prize-winning first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo (2017), the short story was Saunders' forte. In his fifth collection, boldly imagined tales are catalyzed by outright and insidious assaults on our most basic rights, including freedom of mind. Language and memories are essential for understanding oneself, others, and the world; when they are stolen, we lose our autonomy and liberty, scenarios Saunders choreographs with unnerving specificity. Focused on how employment can be fertile ground for "mind-washing," even enslavement, Saunders envisions an extensive underground amusement park from which there is no escape and, in another tale, the transformation of poor and unhoused individuals into "human robots" programmed to participate in violent demonstrations. In the resounding title story, sweet, trusting Jeremy and other captives are turned into puppets forced to perform elaborate orations for the elite, including an exceptionally detailed, ironically devastating telling of Custer's Last Stand. Saunders' vision of diabolically intrusive tyranny undermining democracy possesses the keen absurdity of Kurt Vonnegut, while his more subtle stories align with the gothic edge of Shirley Jackson, acutely attuned in every situation to the complexities of emotions and the tentacles of society. Saunders is also caustically funny, mischievously romantic, and profoundly compassionate, and each of these flawless fables inspires reflection on the fragility of freedom and the valor of the human spirit. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Audacious, caring, and brilliant literary-fiction star Saunders has an ardent readership ready for more.

    COPYRIGHT(2022) Booklist, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 22, 2022
    Booker winner Saunders (Lincoln in the Bardo) returns to the short form with a wide-ranging collection that alternates his familiar fun house of warped simulations with subtler dramas. In “Ghoul,” actors playing demons at an Inferno-esque attraction called “Maws of Hell” succumb to workplace rivalries under the watchful eye of their managers. “Love Letter,” set in a Trumpist dystopia where “loyalists” report dissenters for infractions, takes the form of a man’s cautionary letter to his defiant grandson. The title story imagines a sinister company whose employees, little more than programs, are forced to recreate Custer’s last stand. Other stories probe loss, regret, and hopefulness. “The Mom of Bold Action” follows a frustrated writer and housewife facing turmoil when her son is attacked by at least one of two identical old creeps. “Mother’s Day” explores the inner life of a once feisty elderly woman now living at a remove from the world after her daughter runs away from home. “Elliot Spencer” combines futurism and pathos as a mind-wiped counterprotester suddenly recovers his identity. Saunders’s four previous collections shook the earth a bit harder, but he continues to humanize those whom society has worn down to a nub. Despite the author’s shift to quieter character studies, there’s plenty to satisfy longtime devotees.

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