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George Saunders is the recipient of the 2023 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction. Photo credit: Zach Krahmer

George Saunders to Receive Library Prize for American Fiction

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Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden announced today that the 2023 Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction will be awarded to George Saunders.

One of the Library’s most prestigious awards, the annual Prize for American Fiction honors an American literary writer whose body of work is distinguished not only for its mastery of the art but also for its originality of thought and imagination. The award seeks to commend strong, unique, enduring voices that — throughout consistently accomplished careers — have told us something essential about the American experience.

Saunders will be presented with the honor at the National Book Festival on Aug. 12 prior to a conversation about his body of work.

“George Saunders has an uncanny ability to reveal the complexities of life and death in his writing; in doing so, he points to the truth of our shared human condition,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. “I am pleased to recognize his literary achievements with this honor.”

Hayden selected Saunders as this year’s winner based on nominations from more than 88 distinguished literary figures, including former winners of the prize, acclaimed authors and literary critics from across the United States.

“I’m honored to join the wonderful list of writers selected in the past by the Library of Congress for this prize,” Saunders said. “I look forward to this year’s National Book Festival and to working with the Library to further the art of fiction; an art form that can do so much to bring us together and deepen our empathy for, and interest in, one another.”

Saunders is the New York Times bestselling author of 12 books, including “A Swim in a Pond in the Rain;” “Lincoln in the Bardo,” which won the Man Booker Prize; “Congratulations, by the Way;” “Tenth of December,” a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the inaugural Folio Award; “The Braindead Megaphone;” and the story collections “CivilWarLand in Bad Decline,” “Pastoralia,” and “In Persuasion Nation.” He is also the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship and Guggenheim Fellowship. Saunders is a professor of creative writing at Syracuse University.

The 2023 Library of Congress National Book Festival will take place on Aug. 12 from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. The event is free and open to the public. Attendees will hear conversations that reflect their lived experiences and stories, with presentations for every type of reader. A selection of programs will be livestreamed, and recordings of all presentations can be viewed online following the festival.

Stay tuned to this blog for the release of the full schedule in the coming weeks. Interested in volunteering at the National Book Festival? Learn more here.

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