Tenth of December by George Saunders
Stories

84%

41 Critic Reviews

it’s the brain-changing originality of the writing that lifts these morality plays into something entertaining, hilarious and essential for the soul. It seems as though Saunders’ goal is to write stories that both remind us that not every life is as happy as ours, while at the same time to rescue us from some of that unhappiness.
-National Post arts

Synopsis

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
People • The New York Times Magazine • NPR • Entertainment Weekly • New York • The Telegraph • BuzzFeed • Kirkus Reviews • BookPage • Shelf Awareness

One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet.
 
In the taut opener, “Victory Lap,” a boy witnesses the attempted abduction of the girl next door and is faced with a harrowing choice: Does he ignore what he sees, or override years of smothering advice from his parents and act? In “Home,” a combat-damaged soldier moves back in with his mother and struggles to reconcile the world he left with the one to which he has returned. And in the title story, a stunning meditation on imagination, memory, and loss, a middle-aged cancer patient walks into the woods to commit suicide, only to encounter a troubled young boy who, over the course of a fateful morning, gives the dying man a final chance to recall who he really is. A hapless, deluded owner of an antiques store; two mothers struggling to do the right thing; a teenage girl whose idealism is challenged by a brutal brush with reality; a man tormented by a series of pharmaceutical experiments that force him to lust, to love, to kill—the unforgettable characters that populate the pages of Tenth of December are vividly and lovingly infused with Saunders’s signature blend of exuberant prose, deep humanity, and stylistic innovation.
 
Writing brilliantly and profoundly about class, sex, love, loss, work, despair, and war, Saunders cuts to the core of the contemporary experience. These stories take on the big questions and explore the fault lines of our own morality, delving into the questions of what makes us good and what makes us human.
 
Unsettling, insightful, and hilarious, the stories in Tenth of December—through their manic energy, their focus on what is redeemable in human beings, and their generosity of spirit—not only entertain and delight; they fulfill Chekhov’s dictum that art should “prepare us for tenderness.”

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

“The best book you’ll read this year.”—The New York Times Magazine
 
“A feat of inventiveness . . . This eclectic collection never ceases to delight with its at times absurd, surreal, and darkly humorous look at very serious subjects. . . . Saunders makes you feel as though you are reading fiction for the first time.”—Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner
 
“The best short-story writer in English—not ‘one of,’ not ‘arguably,’ but the Best.”—Mary Karr, Time
 
“A visceral and moving act of storytelling . . . No one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
 
“Saunders’s startling, dreamlike stories leave you feeling newly awakened to the world.”—People
 
“It’s no exaggeration to say that short story master George Saunders helped change the trajectory of American fiction.”—The Wall Street Journal
 
GEORGE SAUNDERS WAS NAMED ONE OF THE 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD BY TIME MAGAZINE


From the Hardcover edition.
 

About George Saunders

See more books from this Author
George Saunders is the author of Tenth of December; In Persuasion Nation; The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil; Pastoralia; CivilWarLand in Bad Decline; The Braindead Megaphone; and a children's book, The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip. His work appears regularly in the New Yorker, Harper's and GQ. In 2006, he was awarded a MacArthur Foundation "genius grant."
 
Published January 8, 2013 by Random House. 271 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Education & Reference, Humor & Entertainment, Action & Adventure. Fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon13
Peak Rank on Jan 27 2013
icon6
Weeks as Bestseller
Bookmark Counts:
7
Want to Read
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Tenth of December
All: 41 | Positive: 37 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Excellent
on Sep 27 2012

It moves between the consciousness of a young boy and an older man, who develop a lifesaving relationship. Nobody writes quite like Saunders.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from Kirkus

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by Gregory Cowles on Feb 01 2013

If a damsel-in-distress narrative seems a creaky vehicle for Saunders’s spirited wordplay and high moral inquiry, well, it’s true there’s nothing especially sophisticated about his story lines...

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Jan 14 2013

...he takes what might have been a contrived and sentimental parable and turns it into a visceral and moving act of storytelling.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by David Wolf on Jan 05 2013

...the stories in Tenth of December mix crude and sophisticated satire of American life with an essentially warm-hearted, optimistic worldview.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from Guardian

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Hari Kunzru on Jan 03 2013

...things descend into a comical maelstrom of Milgram-esque psychiatric malpractice as Saunders burrows into questions about free will and the unsettling possibility that our desires could be manipulated, even chemically reconstructed.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from Guardian

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Nov 05 2012

...the most compassionate writer working today.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Maureen Corrigan on Jan 15 2013

Saunders' short stories have it all — the flexibility of language, the social criticism, the moral ambition, the entertaining dark humor.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from NPR

NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Schaub on Jan 08 2013

...Saunders is one of America's best writers of fiction, and that his stories are as weird, scary and devastating as America itself.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from NPR

NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Alan Chese on Jan 04 2013

George Saunders is the real thing, the successor to such dark comedians of ordinary speech as Donald Barthelme and Grace Paley. He's a Vonnegutian in his soul and, paradoxically, a writer like no one but himself.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from NPR

Examiner

Good
Reviewed by Russ Mayes on Jan 18 2013

...it is the goodness and hopefulness of the characters that shine through.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

NY Journal of Books

Good
Reviewed by Charles Holdefer on Jan 08 2013

...the overall impact of Tenth of December is impressive.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from NY Journal of Books

Star Tribune

Good
Reviewed by Ellen Akins on Jan 05 2013

Widely praised and much honored, short story writer and occasional essayist George Saunders is, as they say, "all that."

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from Star Tribune

Book Reporter

Excellent
Reviewed by Michael Magras on Feb 08 2013

This is one of the most accomplished books of short fiction you will ever read.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Toronto Star

Excellent
Reviewed by John Freeman on Feb 13 2013

...Saunders has ennobled the ignoble language that hurt speaks in by turning it into a powerful and necessary form of art.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from Toronto Star

AV Club

Above average
Reviewed by Kevin McFarland on Jan 14 2013

It’s uncommon in writers blessed with the gift of incisively hilarious satire, but Saunders’ most valuable quality is his overwhelming compassion for the sad characters he moves through impossible situations. Their plights are heartbreaking and gut-busting.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from AV Club

National Post arts

Above average
Reviewed by Greg Hudson on Jan 18 2013

...the plots, the structures, and even the messages shouted in these stories are, frankly, simple...

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from National Post arts

Entertainment Weekly

Above average
Reviewed by Rob Bruner on Jan 04 2013

Most of Tenth of December's stories are about characters struggling with moral questions: whether to do the right thing, how to go about it, what the right thing even might be. Some of these dilemmas are distinctly Saundersian.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

LA Times

Excellent
Reviewed by David Ulin on Dec 28 2012

...accessible but with deeper layers underneath...

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from LA Times

The Telegraph

Excellent
Reviewed by Tom Cox on Jan 16 2013

Saunders has Kurt Vonnegut’s gift of combining unique, high-flown ideas with a strong empathy.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Booklist Online

Good
Reviewed by Donna Seaman on Feb 13 2013

These are unpredictable, stealthily funny, and complexly affecting stories of ludicrousness, fear, and rescue.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Dallas News

Good
Reviewed by David Duhr on Jan 11 2013

...Saunders has cut his old gimmicks and taken a more realist tack.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Washington Independent Review of Books

Excellent
Reviewed by Rae Bryant on Feb 13 2013

Be warned. It is an afternoon lost, because once picked up, Tenth of December sticks.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

The Seattle Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Moira Macdonald on Jan 27 2013

There is hope, these stories remind us; we will carry on, through the unfamiliar roads, to home.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Tor

Good
Reviewed by Ryan Britt on Jan 23 2013

These stories refuse to be read casually, demanding your full attention not only to process the awesome/weird sentences, but also slapping you around with emotional profundities like nobody’s business.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Tampa Bay Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Colette Bancroft on Jan 27 2013

Saunders is an extraordinary writer at the top of his powers, and this is a book not to be missed.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

The Columbus Dispatch

Excellent
Reviewed by Margaret Quamme on Jan 20 2013

George Saunders writes stories that would be creepy if they weren’t so compassionate — and vice versa.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

St. Louis Today

Above average
Reviewed by Holly Silva on Jan 05 2013

The 10 short stories in “Tenth of December”seem more muscular and lithe than previous works, in part because Saunders’ themes, which seemed futuristic and outrageous two decades ago, are now easily recognizable in contemporary life.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Chamber Four

Above average
Reviewed by Nico Vreeland on Jan 25 2013

I loved only three stories out of the collection’s ten, but I loved them; I called this book a Great Read for them.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

USA Today

Good
on Jan 21 2013

He continues to be a master of his craft, offering up the common man in all his hopes and despair.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Time Out New York

Excellent
Reviewed by Matthew Love on Jan 09 2013

Saunders’s dazzling style—the intricate fantasies, zippy locution and playful tone that matches the pluck or perturbation of his protagonists—is also on display here.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Herald Scotland

Above average
Reviewed by Chris Dolan on Dec 29 2012

I suspect this isn't his best book but there's enough to make me want to read more.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Huffington Post

Below average
Reviewed by Alice Charles on Dec 28 2012

If I have any criticism it is this: he has a habit of revisiting characters, themes and ideas, which in a collection of just ten stories, feels like a bit of a cheat. Nevertheless, this is an absorbing read.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Cape Ann Beacon

Good
Reviewed by Rae Padilla Francoeur on Jan 29 2013

Saunders has a brilliant sense of humor...No matter how bad or how ugly the circumstances, humans aren’t all bad. The black hole isn’t fathomless. And mirth abides. Thanks to George Saunders.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Chron

Excellent
Reviewed by Andrew Ervin on Jan 22 2013

The prose is so smartly crafted throughout that it makes me want to go back and re-evaluate all of Saunders' previous books. But first I plan to re-reread this new collection.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Montreal Gazette

Good
Reviewed by Ian McGillis on Feb 08 2013

To pinpoint what raises Saunders above the pack and makes him arguably the best American writer working today, ultimately we have to go back to language: his delight in it, his every-word-counts sense of precision and play.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

My Entertainment World

Above average
Reviewed by Borah Coburn on Feb 05 2013

It’s certainly worth reading, even if it’s not my absolute favorite book of all time.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Chapter 16

Excellent
Reviewed by Stephen Usery on Feb 01 2013

... retains his savage wit, but it also shows him at his most compassionate.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

BookTrust

Excellent
on Feb 13 2013

Rarely does anything unfold in a way recognisable to normal civilised human beings, and therein lies the charm of his brilliantly off-the-wall short stories.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Calgary Herald

Good
Reviewed by Pete McMartin on Feb 08 2013

...Saunders’ writing is deft, howlingly funny at times and carries the reader along. You don’t put these stories down. There may not be a writer in America doing better social satire.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

National Post arts

Good
Reviewed by Greg Hudson on Jan 18 2013

it’s the brain-changing originality of the writing that lifts these morality plays into something entertaining, hilarious and essential for the soul. It seems as though Saunders’ goal is to write stories that both remind us that not every life is as happy as ours, while at the same time to rescue us from some of that unhappiness.

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories | See more reviews from National Post arts

Bookmunch

Excellent
Reviewed by Peter Wild on Jan 14 2013

... a great book, a great collection of stories, demonstrating that Saunders is building upon the themes, snags, hooks and issues that fascinate him whilst at the same time adding to his pallet, fleshing out what makes him interesting as a writer...

Read Full Review of Tenth of December: Stories

Reader Rating for Tenth of December
64%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 1412 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review

Reader reviews & activity

ipsita barik

ipsita barik 10 Oct 2014

Added the book to want to read list

Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

Added the book to custom list '2013 NPR'

Rick McKay

Rick McKay 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Jay Godfrey

Jay Godfrey 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Karen Russo

Karen Russo 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Timothy

Timothy 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

604

604 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

Corinna Nunn

Corinna Nunn 5 Sep 2013

Added the book to want to read list

×