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Writing 'in a very narrow vein'

3 April 2017

‘My experience of becoming a writer... I was a little too late to the game. I wrote when I was younger but I could never get anything to really cohere, so for me the big revelation, before my first book (CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, 1996) was that I had to really restrict myself. I had to really constrain myself and write in a very narrow vein - comic, very contemporary, maybe a little futuristic. It was an internal constraint that I put on myself: not to go in certain directions; not to be too what I would call ‘modernist', not to be too lyrical...

On Lincoln in the Bardo

‘I felt like the main thing a reader should feel is disorientated by what they find in that death realm. If we do have any experience after life it would be really surprising if it was just like what we had read about...

As I was writing it I could feel my own potential grief - you know, I think I'm so smart writing about these dead people, but no one is going to get out of the net. I'm at the age now when some people who are very dear to me have gone over the cliff. I really loved that person and I won't see him again. That's it, that's the way life is. It's obvious, but it was amazing to dwell on that.'

George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo and Tenth of December, which won the inaugural Folio Prize in 2014, in the Bookseller.