The same George Saunders wears a heavier cloak in 'Liberation Day'

LIBERATION DAY: STORIES by George Saunders, Random House, 256 pages, $28

A decade can change a writer’s work without the writer changing at all. The world can catch up with what they’ve always been doing, and something like that is happening with George Saunders. In 2013, when he published his last story collection, Tenth of December, he was a beloved satirist, poking fun at the peculiarities of corporate-speak, theme parks, and suburbia. He was the smirking successor of Vonnegut and Barthelme, a big-idea humorist with some postmodern acrobatics tossed in.

The settings and subjects haven’t changed much in his new collection, Liberation Day, but Saunders’ career-long strategies have acquired a deeper intensity, focus, and bite. He’s always been a moralist, concerned with our obligations to one another; now, an ongoing and intense debate over democracy and its threats has further exposed that. Though in many ways the new collection is typical Saunders, it also speaks more directly to our current moment.

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