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Sunday Spotlight: George Saunders on ‘Tenth of December’

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- In this week’s Sunday Spotlight, author George Saunders discussed his critically praised book, Tenth of December. It’s now a best-seller – a rare feat for a short story collection. During an interview on ABC News’ This Week, Saunders told George Stephanopoulos he hopes to inspire a new sense of unity among readers.

“You’re sending out a bundle of energy, you know, concentrated energy that you’ve made with your own sweat, really, and your heart, and it goes out and it jangles somebody,” Saunders said. “Now, there’s another level where you do hope to make people more alive in the world, maybe more aware of the fact that we have more in common with others than we think we do.”

In a recent cover story, The New York Times Magazine called Saunders “the writer for our time” and praised his latest work as the “best book you’ll read this year.”

His collection of short stories features many contemporary American themes, including economic anxiety.

“You know, you can talk about race, you can talk about sex, you can talk about your biopsy. But when you get into class, people kind of clench up,” Saunders said. “In my 20s, I had a series of that kind of classic American experience, where you are kind of going down and you think, ‘That’s enough. Now I’m going to turn myself around,’ and then you go down a little more.”

Saunders, a former geophysical engineer, said his personal views on wealth and politics have evolved through the years.

“I went to the School of Mines in Colorado and … [was] kind of a dull-witted, sort of vaguely right-wing kind of person who didn’t really know much about politics,” he said. “And then I went to Asia in the oil business, and that really opened up my eyes to suffering and to the fact that wealth doesn’t necessarily indicate that you are virtuous. It’s just sort of an element of luck.”

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