One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet.
In the taut opener, “Victory Lap,” a boy witnesses the attempted abduction of the girl next door and is faced with a harrowing choice: Does he ignore what he sees, or override years of smothering advice from his parents and act? In “Home,” a combat-damaged soldier moves back in with his mother and struggles to reconcile the world he left with the one to which he has returned. And in the title story, a stunning meditation on imagination, memory, and loss, a middle-aged cancer patient walks into the woods to commit suicide, only to encounter a troubled young boy who, over the course of a fateful morning, gives the dying man a final chance to recall who he really is.
A hapless, deluded owner of an antiques store; two mothers struggling to do the right thing; a teenage girl whose idealism is challenged by a brutal brush with reality; a man tormented by a series of pharmaceutical experiments that force him to lust, to love, to kill—the unforgettable characters that populate the pages of Tenth of December are vividly and lovingly infused with Saunders’s signature blend of exuberant prose, deep humanity, and stylistic innovation.
Writing brilliantly and profoundly about class, sex, love, loss, work, despair, and war, Saunders cuts to the core of the contemporary experience. These stories take on the big questions and explore the fault lines of our own morality, delving into the questions of what makes us good and what makes us human.
Unsettling, insightful, and hilarious, the stories in Tenth of December—through their manic energy, their focus on what is redeemable in human beings, and their generosity of spirit—not only entertain and delight; they fulfill Chekhov’s dictum that art should “prepare us for tenderness.”
PRAISE for Tenth of December
"Saunders is a writer of arresting brilliance and originality."—Tobias Wolff
"George Saunders...is the master of joy bombs: little explosions of grin-simulating genius that he buries throughout his deeply thoughtful, endless entertaining flights of imagination." —Entertainment Weekly, Grade A
“Readers . . . will marvel anew at Saunders’ wicked sensibility and profound compassion.”—New York Daily News
"A book for everyone."—Alan Cheuse, NPR "All Things Considered"
"George Saunders helped change the trajectory of American fiction." —The Wall Street Journal
"“George Saunders lives up to the hype."—Mauren Corrigan, NPR "Fresh Air"
"Saunders highly original stories burst with life and characters, showing us the fullness of the soul." —Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Satirical, searching, sure-footed, the masterful Saunders peers into the wintry twilight ahead, holding love like a fragile lamp to guide us." —O, The Oprah Magazine
"Saunders is as much a 'earth mover' as the best engineer." —Financial Times
"There is no one better, no one more essential." —Dave Eggers
"Few people cut as hard or deep as Saunders does." —Junot Diaz
"Each one of these is as funny and off-kilter and formally ingenious as you want a Saunders story to be, but each one is also something else: unabashedly tender." —The Washington Post
“Tenth of December locates a new and striking humanity.”—Time Out New York
“Tenth of December, the latest collection of short fiction by George Saunders, revives the unique comedic poignancy of his best early work and adds even greater emotional depth. . . . One thing is certain while reading most of these stories: this man does what he wants, and he does it better than anyone else writing short fiction today. The sentences are electric, never mannered, and the stories are entirely real, no matter how zany the premise.”—Cleveland Plain Dealer
“Tenth of December shows George Saunders at his most subversive, hilarious, and emotionally piercing. Few writers can encompass that range of adjectives, but Saunders is a true original—restlessly inventive, yet deeply humane.”—Jennifer Egan, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Visit from the Goon Squad
“George Saunders is a complete original, unlike anyone else, thank god—and yet still he manages to be the rightful heir to three other complete American originals—Barthelme (the lyricism, the playfulness), Vonnegut (the outrage, the wit, the scope), and Twain (the common sense, the exasperation). There is no author I recommend to people more often—for ten years I’ve urged George Saunders onto everyone and everyone. You want funny? Saunders is your man. You want emotional heft? Saunders again. You want stories that are actually about something—stories that again and again get to the meat of matters of life and death and justice and country? Saunders. There is no one better, no one more essential to our national sense of self and sanity.”—Dave Eggers, author of A Hologram for the King