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Fiction writer George Saunders will give a reading 7 p.m. Thursday, March 23, in the Simon Center auditorium. A book signing and reception will follow the event, which is free and open to the public.

As Lafayette’s Closs Visiting Writer-in-Residence, Saunders also will host two discussion sessions for fiction-writing students in the Marlo Room of Farinon College Center. He will hold a question-and-answer session 1:15-2:30 p.m. Thursday, March 23. He will discuss The Art of Fiction noon-1 p.m. Friday, March 24.

The residency is sponsored by the English department through the Ruth Mary Callahan Closs Fund established by Fred Closs, a long-time member of the English faculty and originator of Lafayette’s Roethke Humanities Festival, along with Joan Closs in memory of his mother, Ruth Mary Callahan Closs, to encourage student writing.

“Mr. Saunders writes like the illegitimate offspring of Nathanael West and Kurt Vonnegut. [His] satiric vision of America is dark and demented; it is also ferocious and very funny,” states The New York Times.

Saunders earned an M.F.A. from Syracuse University, where he teaches creative writing. He is the author of the story collections Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, the children’s book The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip, and a novella entitled The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil. His next collection of short stories is due this spring. He also has contributed to the New Yorker, Harper’s, Story, Slate,and various other publications. His story “The 400-pound CEO” won the National Magazine Award in 1994, and “Bounty” earned him a second prize in 1996. He is working on screenplays of CivilWarland and his story “Sea Oak.”

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