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George Saunders Honored With Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction
Syracuse University professor and acclaimed fiction writer George Saunders received the 2023 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction at the National Book Festival on Saturday, Aug. 12, in Washington, D.C. Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden presented Saunders with the award during the ceremony. In a subsequent conversation with Clay Smith, the festival’s literary director, Saunders discussed his writing career and his award-winning and bestselling novel “Lincoln in the Bardo.” (Updated Aug. 16, 2022)
The annual prize is one of the most distinguished awards in fiction, recognizing a writer “whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination,” according to an announcement from the Library of Congress.
Saunders, a professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, is the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of 12 books, including:
- “Lincoln in the Bardo,” which won the 2017 Man Booker Prize
- “A Swim in a Pond in the Rain”
- “Congratulations, by the way”
- “Tenth of December,” a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the inaugural Folio Award
- “The Braindead Megaphone”
- “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline”
- “Liberation Day,” a collection of short stories chosen as one of President Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2022
“We are delighted to see Professor Saunders recognized by our nation’s oldest federal cultural institution,” says Behzad Mortazavi, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “This well-deserved honor shines a spotlight on the fantastic talent and teaching offered by Syracuse University’s English department and its creative writing program. We are so proud of George—and so pleased to offer our students the invaluable opportunity to hone the craft alongside such luminaries.”
In 2013, Saunders was named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has taught in the creative writing program since 1996.
“I look forward to… working with the Library [of Congress] to further the art of fiction; an art form that can do so much to bring us together and deepen our empathy for, and interest in, one another,” Saunders said when the prize was announced.