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AUTHOR’S BIO

Author Background

• Birth—December 2, 1958
• Where—Amarillo, Texas, USA
• Raised—suburbs of Chicago, Illinois
• Education—B.S., Colorado School of Mines; M.A., Syracuse University
• Awards—4 National Magazine Awards; PEN/Malamud Award; World Fantasy Award; Story Prize; Folio Prize
• Currently—teaches at Syracuse University

George Saunders is an American writer of short stories, essays, novellas and children’s books. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, McSweeney’s and GQ. He also contributed a weekly column, American Psyche, to the weekend magazine of The Guardian until October 2008.

A professor at Syracuse University, Saunders won the National Magazine Award for fiction in 1994, 1996, 2000, and 2004, and second prize in the O. Henry Awards in 1997. His first story collection, CivilWarLand in Bad Decline (1996), was a finalist for that year’s PEN/Hemingway Award. In 2006 Saunders received a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2006 he won the World Fantasy Award for his short story “CommComm”. His story collection In Persuasion Nation was a finalist for The Story Prize in 2007. In 2013, he won the PEN/Malamud Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award. His Tenth of December: Stories (2013) won the 2013 Story Prize for short-story collections and the inaugural (2014) Folio Prize .

Early Life

Saunders was born in Amarillo, Texas. He grew up in the south suburbs of Chicago, graduating from Oak Forest High School in Oak Forest, Illinois. In 1981 Saunders received a B.S. in geophysical engineering from Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado. In 1988, he obtained an M.A. in creative writing from Syracuse University.

Of his scientific background, Saunders has said,
Any claim I might make to originality in my fiction is really just the result of this odd background: basically, just me working inefficiently, with flawed tools, in a mode I don’t have sufficient background to really understand. Like if you put a welder to designing dresses.

Career

From 1989 to 1996, Saunders worked as a technical writer and geophysical engineer for Radian International, an environmental engineering firm in Rochester, New York. He also worked for a time with an oil exploration crew in Sumatra.

Since 1997, Saunders has been on the faculty of Syracuse University, teaching creative writing in the school’s MFA program while continuing to publish fiction and nonfiction. In 2006, Saunders was awarded a $500,000 MacArthur Fellowship. In the same year he was also awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He was a Visiting Writer at Wesleyan University and Hope College in 2010. His nonfiction collection, The Braindead Megaphone, was published in 2007. While promoting The Braindead Megaphone, Saunders appeared on The Colbert Report and the Late Show with David Letterman.[citation needed]

Saunders’s fiction often focuses on the absurdity of consumerism, corporate culture and the role of mass media. While many reviewers mention the satirical tone in Saunders’s writing, his work also raises moral and philosophical questions. The tragicomic element in his writing has earned Saunders comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut, whose work inspired Saunders.

Saunders is a student of Nyingma Buddhism.

Works

Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel Feb 14, 2017
CivilWarLand in Bad Decline: Stories and a Novella Apr 26, 2016
The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip Nov 24, 2015
Tenth of December: Stories Jan 7, 2014
Congratulations, by the way: Some Thoughts on Kindness Apr 22, 2014
Fox 8: A Story Apr 9, 2013
The Braindead Megaphone Sep 4, 2007
In Persuasion Nation Mar 6, 2007
The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil Sep 6, 2005
Pastoralia Jun 1, 2001

KIRKUS REVIEW

Short-story virtuoso Saunders’ (Tenth of December, 2013, etc.) first novel is an exhilarating change of pace.

The bardo is a key concept of Tibetan Buddhism: a middle, or liminal, spiritual landscape where we are sent between physical lives. It’s also a fitting master metaphor for Saunders’ first novel, which is about suspension: historical, personal, familial, and otherwise. The Lincoln of the title is our 16th president, sort of, although he is not yet dead. Rather, he is in a despair so deep it cannot be called mere mourning over his 11-year-old son, Willie, who died of typhoid in 1862. Saunders deftly interweaves historical accounts with his own fragmentary, multivoiced narration as young Willie is visited in the netherworld by his father, who somehow manages to bridge the gap between the living and the dead, at least temporarily. But the sneaky brilliance of the book is in the way Saunders uses these encounters—not so much to excavate an individual’s sense of loss as to connect it to a more national state of disarray. 1862, after all, was the height of the Civil War, when the outcome was far from assured. Lincoln was widely seen as being out of his depth, “a person of very inferior cast of character, wholly unequal to the crisis.” Among Saunders’ most essential insights is that, in his grief over Willie, Lincoln began to develop a hard-edged empathy, out of which he decided that “the swiftest halt to the [war] (therefore the greatest mercy) might be the bloodiest.” This is a hard truth, insisting that brutality now might save lives later, and it gives this novel a bitter moral edge. For those familiar with Saunders’ astonishing short fiction, such complexity is hardly unexpected, although this book is a departure for him stylistically and formally; longer, yes, but also more of a collage, a convocation of voices that overlap and argue, enlarging the scope of the narrative. It is also ruthless and relentless in its evocation not only of Lincoln and his quandary, but also of the tenuous existential state shared by all of us. Lincoln, after all, has become a shade now, like all the ghosts who populate this book. “Strange, isn’t it?” one character reflects. “To have dedicated one’s life to a certain venture, neglecting other aspects of one’s life, only to have that venture, in the end, amount to nothing at all, the products of one’s labors utterly forgotten?”

With this book, Saunders asserts a complex and disturbing vision in which society and cosmos blur.

THE AUDIOBOOK

The audio book is comprehensively read by a full cast including Nick Offerman, David Sedaris, George Saunders, Carrie Brownstein, Miranda July, Lena Dunham, it is 7 hrs and 25 mins long.

Watch the PBS News Hour interview, writing Lincoln in the Bardo YouTube.








AUTHOR’S BIO

He was born in Haifa, Israel, in 1976. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Oxford in 2002, and is now a lecturer at the Department of History, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He specialized in World History, medieval history and military history. His current research focuses on macro-historical questions: What is the relation between history and biology? What is the essential difference between Homo sapiens and other animals? Is there justice in history? Does history have a direction? Did people become happier as history unfolded?

Prof. Harari twice won the Polonsky Prize for Creativity and Originality, in 2009 and 2012. In 2011 he won the Society for Military History’s Moncado Award for outstanding articles in military history. In
2012 he was elected to the Young Israeli Academy of Sciences.

He has published several book, among which are: Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow (2016) and Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2014).

KIRKUS REVIEW

In an intellectually provocative follow-up to Sapiens (2015), Harari (History/Hebrew Univ. of Jerusalem) looks to the future.

Throughout history, humans prayed for deliverance from famine, disease, and war with spotty success. For centuries, prophets agreed that all of the suffering was “an integral part of God’s cosmic plan.” Today, obesity kills more humans than starvation, old age more than disease, and suicide more than murder. Having reduced three horsemen of the apocalypse to technical problems, what will humans do next? Harari’s answer: we will become gods—not perfect but like Greek or Hindu gods: immortal and possessing superpowers but with some foibles. Although an atheist, the author does not demean religion. “Up until modern times,” he writes, “most cultures believed that humans play a part in some cosmic plan…devised by the omnipotent gods, or by the eternal laws of nature, and humankind could not change it. The cosmic plan gave meaning to human life, but also restricted human power.” Even without this agency, this belief gave our lives meaning: disasters happened for a reason, and everything would work out for the best. Deeply satisfying, this remains a core belief of most humans, including nonchurchgoers. Since the Enlightenment, the explosion of knowledge has produced dazzling progress but limited the influence of God. Many thinkers—if not the general public—agree that there is no cosmic plan but also that humans are no longer humble victims of fate. This is humanism, which grants us immense power, the benefits of which are obvious but come at a painful price. Modern culture is the most creative in history, but, faced with “a universe devoid of meaning,” it’s “plagued with more existential angst than any previous culture.” As in Sapiens, smoothly tackles thorny issues and leads us through “our current predicament and our possible futures.”

A relentlessly fascinating book that is sure to become—and deserves to be—a bestseller.

THE AUDIOBOOK

The audio book is well read by Derek Perkins, it is 14 hrs and 54 mins long.

Watch his lecture on The Future of Humanity on YouTube.







AUTHOR’S BIO

Lisa See is the New York Times bestselling author of Snow Flower and the Secret Fan, Peony in Love, Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy, and China Dolls. Her most recent novel, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane, will be released by Scribner in March 2017. Booklist has said of the new novel, “See’s focus on the unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters, by birth and by circumstance, becomes an extraordinary homage to unconditional love.” Ms. See has also written a mystery series that takes place in China, as well as On Gold Mountain, which is about her Chinese-American family. Her books have been published in 39 languages. Ms. See was honored as National Woman of the Year by the Organization of Chinese American Women in 2001, was the recipient of the Chinese American Museum’s History Makers Award in 2003, and is slated to receive the Golden Spike Award from the Chinese Historical Society of Southern California in 2017.

Ms. See wrote the libretto for Los Angeles Opera based on On Gold Mountain, which premiered in June 2000. That same year, she also curated the exhibition On Gold Mountain: A Chinese American Experience at the Autry Museum. Ms. See then helped develop and curate the Family Discovery Gallery at the Autry Museum, an interactive space for children and their families that focused on Lisa’s bi-racial, bi-cultural family. The installation was up for twelve years. In 2003, she curated the inaugural exhibition—a retrospective of artist Tyrus Wong—for the grand opening of the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles. In addition, she designed a walking tour of L.A.’s Chinatown and wrote the companion guidebook for Angels Walk L.A. to celebrate the opening of the MTA’s Chinatown station. As a longtime trustee on the University of California Press Foundation, she endowed the Lisa See Endowment Fund in Southern California History and Culture.

KIRKUS REVIEW

A woman from the Akha tribe of China’s Yunnan province becomes a tea entrepreneur as her daughter grows up in California.

See explores another facet of Chinese culture, one that readers may find obscure but intriguing. Li-Yan, the only daughter of a tea-growing family, is a child of the Akha “ethnic minority,” as groups in China who are not of the Han majority are known. The Akha are governed by their beliefs in spirits, cleansing rituals, taboos, and the dictates of village shamans. As a teenager, circa 1988, Li-Yan witnesses the death of newborn twins, killed by their father as custom requires, because the Akha consider twin-ship a birth defect: such infants are branded “human rejects.” The Akha, inhabiting rugged, inaccessible terrain, have avoided the full brunt of China’s experiments in social engineering, including the Great Leap Forward and its resultant famine, the Cultural Revolution, and the One Child policy. Li-Yan’s family harvests mostly from wild tea trees as opposed to terraced bushes, and their product is discovered by a connoisseur, Huang, who will alter Li-Yan’s destiny. The Akha encourage youthful sexual experimentation, but progeny outside marriage are automatically “rejects.” So when Li-Yan discovers she is pregnant by her absent fiance, San-pa, she hides, with her mother’s help, in the secret grove of ancient tea trees which is her birthright. After the infant is born, Li-Yan journeys on foot to a town where she gives up her child. Over the next 20 years, we follow Li-Yan as she marries and is widowed, escapes her village, becomes a tea seller, and marries a wealthy recycling mogul, Jin. The couple moves to Pasadena. Intermittent dispatches inform readers that, unbeknownst to Li-Yan, her daughter, named Haley by her adoptive parents, is also in Pasadena. Haley’s challenges as a privileged American daughter pale in contrast to Li-Yan’s far more elemental concerns. Although representing exhaustive research on See’s part, and certainly engrossing, the extensive elucidation of international adoption, tea arcana, and Akha lore threatens to overwhelm the human drama.

Still, a riveting exercise in fictional anthropology.

THE AUDIOBOOK

The audio book is authentically read by a full cast, Ruthie Ann Miles , Kimiko Glenn , Alexandra Allwine , Gabra Zackman , Jeremy Bobb , Joy Osmanski , Emily Walton and Erin Wilhelmi, it is 14 hrs and 7 mins long.

Watch Interview with Daniel Suarez on YouTube.







AUTHOR’S BIO

Daniel Suarez is a New York Times bestselling author whose books include Daemon, Freedom TM, Kill Decision, Influx, and Change Agent.
A former systems consultant to Fortune 1000 companies, he has designed and developed software for the defense, finance, and entertainment industries.
With a lifelong interest in both IT systems and creative writing, his high-tech and sci-fi thrillers focus on technology-driven change.
Suarez is a past speaker at TED Global, MIT Media Lab, and the Long Now Foundation, among many others.
Self-taught in software development, he is a graduate from the University of Delaware with a BA in English Literature.
An avid PC and console gamer, his own world-building skills were bolstered through years as a pen & paper role-playing game moderator.
He lives in Los Angeles, California.

KIRKUS REVIEW

In the year 2045, Singapore-based Interpol agent Kenneth Durand’s campaign against black-market gene editing is set back when he’s injected with a synthetic “change agent” that transforms him into the spitting image of his evil nemesis.

That would be Marcus Demang Wyckes, ruthless head of the human-trafficking Huli jing cartel. What makes Durand’s transformation shocking and spectacular is that the only known altering of DNA segments has been performed on embryos, to meet parents’ desires for healthier, smarter, or more attractive offspring. Jabbed with a needle by one of Wyckes’ men, Durand has his entire genomic code rewritten, a procedure that takes months to complete and leaves him in a coma from which he was not meant to recover. The plan was to have him die looking like Wyckes so people would think the cartel head was dead and Durand’s successors wouldn’t keep pursuing him. Durand escapes but finds himself chased by both bad guys who want to kill him and law enforcement agents who think he’s Wyckes while he heads to Malaysia to have a black-market geneticist restore his original DNA via a risky reverse edit. Along the way, we are introduced to ultrasophisticated police drones, tiny Shrimp cars, and drug printers that produce synthetic opioids from mundane ingredients. While the action scenes are plenty lively, the best thing about the book is its depiction of a troublesome future in which people can change physical identities the way they change clothes. The tattoos that appear on Durand’s arm when he’s angry and recede when he isn’t are only one of the novel’s cool details.

A natural at making future shocks seem perfectly believable, Suarez (Influx, 2014, etc.) delivers his most entertaining high-tech thriller yet.

THE AUDIOBOOK

The audio book is well read by Nicholas Jeff Gurner, it is 15 hrs and 2 mins long.

Watch Interview with Daniel Suarez on YouTube.







AUTHOR’S BIO

Born in 1964, Amor Towles was raised in a suburb of Boston, Massachusetts. He graduated from Yale College and received an M.A. in English from Stanford University where he was a Scowcroft Fellow. From 1991-2012, he worked as an investment professional in New York. He continues to live in Manhattan with his wife and two children.

Mr. Towles is an ardent fan of early 20th century painting, 1950’s jazz, 1970’s cop shows, rock & roll on vinyl, manifestoes, breakfast pastries, pasta, liquor, snow-days, Tuscany, Provence, Disneyland, Hollywood, the cast of Casablanca, 007, Captain Kirk, Bob Dylan (early, mid, and late phases), the wee hours, card games, cafés, and the cookies made by both of his grandmothers.

His novel, Rules of Civility, was published by Viking/Penguin in July 2011 and reached the bestseller lists of The New York Times, the Boston Globe and Los Angeles Times. The book was rated by The Wall Street Journal as one of the ten best works of fiction in 2011. The book’s French translation received the 2012 Prix Fitzgerald. The book has been published in 15 languages.
In the fall of 2012, the novel was optioned by Lionsgate to be made into a feature film. Viking/Penguin will be publishing Towles’s new novel, A Gentleman in Moscow, on September 6, 2016.

KIRKUS REVIEW

Sentenced to house arrest in Moscow’s Metropol Hotel by a Bolshevik tribunal for writing a poem deemed to encourage revolt, Count Alexander Rostov nonetheless lives the fullest of lives, discovering the depths of his humanity.

Inside the elegant Metropol, located near the Kremlin and the Bolshoi, the Count slowly adjusts to circumstances as a “Former Person.” He makes do with the attic room, to which he is banished after residing for years in a posh third-floor suite. A man of refined taste in wine, food, and literature, he strives to maintain a daily routine, exploring the nooks and crannies of the hotel, bonding with staff, accepting the advances of attractive women, and forming what proves to be a deeply meaningful relationship with a spirited young girl, Nina. “We are bound to find comfort from the notion that it takes generations for a way of life to fade,” says the companionable narrator. For the Count, that way of life ultimately becomes less about aristocratic airs and privilege than generosity and devotion. Spread across four decades, this is in all ways a great novel, a nonstop pleasure brimming with charm, personal wisdom, and philosophic insight. Though Stalin and Khrushchev make their presences felt, Towles largely treats politics as a dark, distant shadow. The chill of the political events occurring outside the Metropol is certainly felt, but for the Count and his friends, the passage of time is “like the turn of a kaleidoscope.” Not for nothing is Casablanca his favorite film. This is a book in which the cruelties of the age can’t begin to erase the glories of real human connection and the memories it leaves behind.

A masterly encapsulation of modern Russian history, this book more than fulfills the promise of Towles’ stylish debut, Rules of Civility (2011).

THE AUDIOBOOK

The audio book is authentically read by Nicholas Guy Smith, it is 17 hrs and 52 mins long.

Watch Interview with Amor Towles on YouTube.



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