Last Sunday, The New York Times Magazine wrote a fawning profile of the writer George Saunders, the 54-year-old Amarillo native whose witty post-postmodern short stories have earned him a MacArthur “genius” grant as well as comparisons to a Who’s Who of the canon. T he Times article alone likened him to Albert Camus, Raymond Carver, Anton Chekhov, Victor Hugo, Flannery O’Connor, Charles Schulz, Kurt Vonnegut, and Walt Whitman. The Jan. 3 profile is titled “George Saunders Has Written the Best Book You’ll Read This Year,” a reference to Saunders’ new story collection, Tenth of December. In case the title didn’t convince you of Saunders’s importance, Joel Lovell writes in the piece, “For people who pay close attention to the state of American fiction, [Saunders] has become a kind of superhero.”
If that sort of press doesn’t establish Saunders, who now lives in upstate New York, as one of the top dogs in American literature, we don’t know what will. But is he a top dog of Texas literature? Sure, he can be king of Amarillo. But do his wind-up stories deserve to rub shoulders on the bookshelf with Cisneros, Dobie, Graves, McCarthy, and McMurtry?
Edward Nawotka, editor of Publishing Perspectives, answered