Since its publication in 1996, George Saunders’s debut collection has grown in esteem from a cherished cult classic to a masterpiece of the form, inspiring an entire generation of writers along the way. In six stories and a novella, Saunders hatches an unforgettable cast of characters, each struggling to survive in an increasingly haywire world. With a new introduction by Joshua Ferris and a new author’s note by Saunders himself, this edition is essential reading for those seeking to discover or revisit a virtuosic, disturbingly prescient voice.
"An astoundingly tuned voice—graceful, dark, authentic, and funny—telling just the kinds of stories we need to get us through these times." —Thomas Pynchon
"Scary, hilarious, and unforgettable . . . George Saunders is a writer of arresting brilliance and originality." —Tobias Wolff
"A cool satirist and a wicked stylist. The quirkiest and most accomplished short-story debut since Barry Hannah's Airships." —Jay McInerney, The New York Times Book Review
"Ingenious . . . full of savage humor and originality [and] scorching brilliance . . . the author creates a nightmarish post-apocalyptic world that might have been envisioned by Walt Disney on acid." —The Philadelphia Inquirer
"The debut of an exciting new voice in fiction. Mr. Saunders writes like the illegitimate offspring of [Nathaniel] West and Kurt Vonnegut, perhaps a distant relative of Mark Leyner and Steven Wright. He's a savage satirist with a sentimental streak who delineates, in these pages, the dark underbelly of the American dream: the losses, delusions, and terrors suffered by the lonely, the disenfranchised, the downtrodden and the plain unlucky. . . . Bizarre events pop up regularly in CivilWarLand like road signs on a highway, directing the reader toward the dark heart of Mr. Saunders's America. What powers the stories along is Mr. Saunders's wonderfully demented language, his ear for absurdity and slang, his own patented blend of psychobabble, techno-talk and existential angst. Mr. Saunders's satiric vision of America is dark and demented; it is also ferocious and very funny." —The New York Times