Few authors anywhere get more hype than George Saunders. But the man is truly a prose wizard, as reaffirmed in this year’s Lincoln in the Bardo, which the New York Times likened to “a weird folk art diorama of a cemetery come to life.” The novel, Saunders’s first, takes place after the death of Abraham Lincoln’s 11-year-old son, and follows a huge cast of ghosts in the liminal space between life and death. It’s a different sort of beast for readers accustomed to his high-concept, darkly zany, deeply funny short stories. Now Saunders—a professor at Syracuse University and a MacArthur “genius grant” recipient—is bringing his brilliance to the screen. In March, Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman scored the movie rights to Lincoln in the Bardo. And this summer, Saunders spent two weeks in Brooklyn, as Amazon filmed a TV pilot based on his 1998 short story Sea Oak, starring Glenn Close as a zombie—look for it later this fall.
On Thursday, October 12, Literary Arts hosts Saunders at the Schnitz. In advance of his visit, we talked with him about getting snarky on the Trump campaign trail, hanging out with Glenn Close, and learning to be “more precisely manic.”