George Saunders on Lincoln in the Bardo and creating art in a divided America

The New York Times bestselling author talks about his latest novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, and how he creates art with empathy in mind.
( David Crosby)
Listen17:42

Writer George Saunders has received critical acclaim for his work. He's been the recipient of the MacArthur Genius Grant, he's been Number 1 on the New York Times bestseller list, and Time Magazine has dubbed him one of the most influential people in the world.

Saunders is best known for his collections of short stories, like Pastoralia and Tenth of December. Lincoln in the Bardo is the latest from the author and his first venture into novels. The story tells the tale of Abraham Lincoln and his son, Willie, who died in 1892. Grief-stricken one night, Lincoln visits the cemetery where his son is buried — and from there ensues a supernatural thriller where Lincoln finds himself in the bardo, a Tibetan word meaning purgatory.

But Saunders doesn't just write fiction— during the 2016 presidential election he interviewed Donald Trump supporters at rallies across the country in a piece for the New Yorker. Saunders joined q host Tom Power to talk about his experience on the campaign trail, how he creates empathy in his stories and his latest work, Lincoln in the Bardo.

— Produced by Chris Trowbridge, Cora Nijhawan and Vanessa Greco

 

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