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It’s not every day that a literary novelist makes it to late night TV, but George Saunders’ recent appearance on Stephen Colbert indicates just how beloved the quirky author is. This is nothing new: in 2001, Entertainment Weekly named Saunders as one of the 100 top most creative people in entertainment, and his unusual books have been critically acclaimed bestsellers. His new novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, is about the dead son of Abraham Lincoln, who finds himself trapped in a kind of purgatory. (!)

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Saunders is known for combining the “biting & earnest,” as this Columbia interview explores. His trademark dark humor is especially on display in this “deleted scene” from the novella “Pastoralia.” “Pastoralia,” of course, concerns a man who lives full-time as a caveman in an amusement park diorama. Like all of Saunders’ work, it manages to reveal the often-chilling absurdities of our world while making you laugh at the same time. Dive in to “The Big Durn Flood”—you can download the PDF for free.


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Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, No. 35 (Spring/Summer 2001), pp. 87-99
Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art
Conjunctions, No. 36, Dark Laughter (2001), pp. 116-122