- Tim Knox
- George Saunders will speak Wednesday, March 2, as part of The Cabin's Readings and Conversations series.
From the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to Black Lives Matter to the Donald Trump presidential candidacy, there's a sense that tensions in America are as high as they've ever been. MacArthur Genius Grant-winner and National Book Award finalist George Saunders feels it, too.
"We seem to be in a time where a lot of the public rhetoric is angry," he said. "But in addition to angry, it's kind of definitive: It deals with Person A knowing the right answer and everyone else being wrong."
Saunders has made numerous appearances on The Colbert Report and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. He will speak at The Egyptian Theatre on Wednesday, March 2, as part of The Cabin's Readings and Conversations. Tickets are $15 for Cabin members, $20 for non-members. There, he'll discuss his 20-year career in letters that includes a large body of short stories (notably his acclaimed collection, Tenth of December) and essays.
The problem of the failure of America's common political ground came to Saunders' attention while watching a recent political back-and-forth in which he felt like he wasn't living in the America the politicians on stage were describing.
"It was so angry, and they’re talking about a country that I don’t actually recognize, that I have some big issues with but is basically workable and is kind of nice," he said.
During his career, however, Saunders' work has circled around a "radical defense of tenderness"—an idea, he said, that might help people relate better to each other in an age of obsession with being right.
"My working assumption should be that since we’re countrymen, we should find some common ground. I think the way that the public rhetoric is going, it’s important to keep our minds on a feeling of tenderness for someone," he said.
For literature fans in the Wood River Valley, Saunders is also engaged to speak at the Church of the Big Wood in Ketchum Thursday, March 3. Tickets are $25 for Sun Valley Center for the Arts members, $35 for nonmembers and $15 for students.
To learn more about Saunders' writing and philosophy, check out the audio of our interview with him below: