100 Books That Defined the Decade
For good, for bad, for ugly.
George Saunders, Tenth of December (2013)
Dad had once said, Trust your mind, Rob. If it smells like shit but has writing across it that says Happy Birthday and a candle stuck down in it, what is it?
Is there icing on it? he’d said.
Essential stats: The collection debuted at #3 on the New York Times bestseller list—quite a feat for a literary collection. And everyone gushed over it. The week it was published—this is the first week of January, mind you—The New York Times Magazine ran a cover story headlined “George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year.”
What made it so defining? First of all, it was the major mainstream breakthrough of a longtime writer’s writer—it was sold out on Amazon on the day of its release, a fact that gave me great hope for the American mind. But also, as Charles Finch put it, while one obvious choice for the Sub-Genre of the Decade Award is autofiction, “it could easily be that we will remember the 2010s for producing the lovely slipstream fiction of authors like George Saunders, Kelly Link and Colson Whitehead, a subtler cousin of magical realism, and thus perhaps more closely reflective of how truly surreal things have gotten.”
Read the title story: here.
Here’s Saunders reading from the book and speaking at Google:
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