Cover Image: Liberation Day

Liberation Day

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Member Reviews

What a great collection! This was my first time reading George Saunders and I'm impressed by these memorable and wonderful stories, many of which are both thought-provoking and insightful. A page turner for sure.
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I adore this book! there are nine stories, about everything important and personal. While I may not love each story, the writing I adore. I've reread several and this is such a wonderful and valuable addition to my Saunders collection.
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I didn't love this as much as his other collections, but he's an extremely unique and welcome voice to have on the shelves.
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I am not a huge fan of short stories, but I loved “Lincoln in the Bardo” so much that I have tried some of the author’s  short stories. One of my problems with short story collections is the unevenness of the selection. This book is no exception. 

“Liberation Day” was one of my favorites, a long, strange dystopian story featuring erased memories (this also comes up in “Elliott Spencer”, my least favorite story). For a long time I thought the characters were androids. I also liked “Love Letter”, written in the form of a letter from a grandfather to his grandson. This is the most overtly political of the stories. Some people think that this is also dystopian. I think it is very much of the moment as it describes the present day normalization of the abhorrent.”Sparrow” and “My House” were very slight and felt like filler. 

I really hopes the author writes another novel, because I definitely don’t feel the same magic from his short stories. 

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.
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George Saunders is TGE master of the short story, so a new collection is always a treat. This collection is no exception. Razor-sharp, wickedly funny, and always a joy. Simply exquisite.
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George Saunders' Liberation Day is a collection of nine short stories with complex world building and beautiful writing. Each word, each sentence is orchestrated with intention, and atmosphere and feeling seep through the pages. 

There is no shortage of short story collections, but Saunders sets himself apart with brilliant prose and unique frameworks. In short order he conveys key details of the settings, and there are few authors out there at such a level. Fans of Ted Chiang will find George Saunders an equally excellent author operating at a level few others can achieve. I'm in awe of the creativity time and again., both apparent in this collection and his earlier works.

(I received a digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.)
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I always love to read George Saunders. Liberation Day: Stories is a great collection with varying themes. I liked the dystopian element to some of the stories, and how they reflect the anxiety about our modern-day world.
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Thank you to Random House and NetGalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

I have always been a George Saunders fan and this collection is no exception. I will say that I think it went in directions that I did not expect, but with classic George flair, the language and plotting had me lost in each one. The stories range in style and substance but the themes are intense and clear and I think that it's a great collection for today's times. 

5 stars.
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George Saunders is a brilliant writer with an incredible ability to depict a variety of situations (particularly very strange and disturbing ones in this collection) and the stories all have a underlying thread of dread and cynicism that after awhile became a little too much for me.  Definitely only read one story at a time and then put the book down for awhile and read something life-affirming to cleanse your palette.  I have been a fan of his since his first collection "Tenth of December" where in some cases I could relate to some elements of some of the characters.  In this collection, I could not relate but it felt like he is writing in the context of today where we are deeply polarized as a country and thanks to conspiracy theories and social media, we are losing our own ability to think - similar to the puppet like/programmed characters in these stories.  So while the writing is brilliant, I found in the end that these stories were just too dark and bleak for what I need now.

Thank you to Netgalley and Random House for an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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An intense collection of short stories.  If you are into dystopian, "could happen but hope it doesn't" sorts of fiction, this book is for you.  It was just a bit much for me, I had a hard time getting into it.
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3.5/5- This is a hard one to rate. In Liberation Day, George Saunders utilizes a unique narrative style consistent throughout all the stories. In these speculative fiction (and sometimes sci-fi) stories, Saunders uses dry humor to explore the behaviors of humanity through lenses of poverty, political justice, class, and revenge, to name a few.  The unique narrative style, full of satire and allusions to real world events, was the most successful part of this collection in my opinion, because it is so unique from others i’ve read. The most unique story where the dry humor was most apparent had to have been Ghoul, though that one ranked in the middle for me. My favorite stories were Liberation Day, Love Letter, and Elliott Spencer. However there were other stories that i just had to DNF (Mother’s Day) or just didn’t understand the purpose of ( My House) or that I just didn’t care about (Sparrow, A Thing at Work). I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes speculative/weird fiction, dry humor, and/or sci-fi.
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Thank you to NetGalley and Random House Publishing Group for a copy of George Saunders’ Liberation Day.

In his latest short story collection, Liberation Day, Saunders explores the shocking realities of human nature, making for an often uncomfortable, yet occasionally humorous, bumpy ride for readers. Saunders forces readers to confront ugly aspects of humanity, seeing those aspects of our own personalities reflected in his characters.

The title story, Liberation Day, is set in a near-future where people who are down on their luck are able to sell themselves as entertainment for wealthy members of society. This cringy situation becomes more fraught when protestors try to help, creating a savior situation and further silencing the voices of those in a potentially compromised position. This leads to the question of autonomy and whether or not it is okay to intercede in situations where you feel someone in a position of powerlessness has made a poor decision. Who gets to decide? All of Saunders’ stories are layered with complicated moral and social situations.

His story Ghoul involves groups of people living underground in Colorado. They spend their days rehearsing for a type of amusement park, where they will act out scenes for visitors. They have various themed sets, such as the wild west and a medieval banquet. They have never seen a guests, but are told the guests will come soon and to prepare, they must constantly rehearse. They are not allowed to question their reality and a strict social code keeps them in their place. If they dare speak out or question, their peers will be obligated to kick the offender to death. It’s very surprising. The main character, who plays a gargoyle type of “Ghoul” is a hilarious and self-serving narrator. As horrific as the situation is, the bluntness and wry observations had me laughing. It also makes the reader consider the things that our own society does not allow us to question for fear of repercussions. 

Most of Saunders’ characters are not likable in the slightest, yet I had empathy because their situations, however bizarre, felt universal. Saunders has a keen ability to write absurd situations and make them relatable. I enjoyed how his stories felt like putting together pieces of a puzzle. He drops the reader in and allows them to figure out the situation, teasing out information, rather than spelling it all out. I was able to experience those moments of surprise when I understood what was happening and felt like a participant in the stories. While many authors can write a good plot twist, I can’t remember the last time I read something as truly surprising and mentally engaging as this story collection. I highly recommend Liberation Day.
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George Saunders, simply put, is the master of modern short stories. His latest collection, "Liberation Day," is further proof. His trademark writing style is on display as he blends darkness and humour to comment on modern societies greatest woes. From a group of humanoids forced to perform opera's for wealthy onlookers in the titular "Liberation Day," to a man who is brainwashed and cleansed of his memory in "Elliot Spencer," Saunders explores  the ways in which power can be abused in how wholly unique way. In "Ghoul," he delves into the disturbing world of underground amusement park workers repeating elements of "Liberation Day" but just when you think he may be dipping into his toolbox one too many times he enters the real world with stories like "Love Letter" and the  "Mom of Bold Action,"  Every story in this collection is a must-read.
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George Saunders has reached the point where he can no longer be considered a cult favorite, having reached a point where he is one of the best known living short story writers. It's a reputation that is well deserved, his short stories are both very good and unlike anything else. This newest collection of stories is what readers have come to expect from Saunders; there are odd scenarios involving bizarre theme parks and people who have limited agency over their own lives. The author writes about people who manage to make decisions and take action in environments where they should not be able to do so, even when the characters are very much ordinary guys just trying to get by. This is a solid collection that will make any George Saunders fan very happy and would also be a good introduction for anyone who has yet to read his work.
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Liberation Day: Stories, George Saunders, author; Tina Fey, Michael McKean, Edi Patterson, Jenny Slate, Jack McBrayer, Melora Hardin, Stephen Root, narrators.
All of these stories seem to be variations of these same themes: loss, disappointment, grief, sadness, disillusionment, vengeance, pettiness, cruelty, hopelessness, and perhaps, just momentarily, a bit of hopefulness, gratitude, and the milk of human kindness.
In the first story, the longest one, the one that gives the book its title, we witness a world beyond our imagination. For those who have lost all hope of achieving their goals or of attaining success, there is a program that wipes their memories clean and gives them a fresh start. If they enter it, their families will be provided for, though they will no longer be part of their families. The life, as they had known it, would be erased. Their memories would be gone and their age would begin from that day forward, so although they were fully grown adults, they would believe they were only a few years old. They entered this program voluntarily. No one was coerced, though they would soon be slaves, of a kind.
Theirs would be an empty life, a programmed life, in which they would only be aware of information fed into them by means of a receptor. They would be fed by others. Most often they would be restrained. Each day they would be told how to proceed with specific instructions. They would live in the “listening room”, where like actors, they would perform for the entertainment of others by actually becoming the characters in the performance, using only the information fed into their thoughts by external means.
One day, a group stages a rebellion to free these “volunteers”, believing that they know what is right and are the virtuous ones; the accomplice who planned the liberation realizes too late, the error of his own ways. The group’s behavior turns out to be no better, and perhaps a bit worse, than the behavior of those they had condemned.
The story made me uncomfortable, which is a testament to the author’s genius, for as the “speakers/actors” in the listening room are about to make the audience experience the fear of the Battle of Little Big Horn, or Custer’s Last Stand, the reading audience, too, will grow afraid, as I did, afraid to find out what was going to transpire next.
Moving on, in another story, a writer throwing out various plots as she attempts to write, is obsessed with the safety of her son. She suddenly realizes that she does not know where he is, and when he does appear, she sees he is wounded. What has happened to him? Are her reactions or those of her husband rational? Do they become like those they condemn? This seems to be another story about people who thought they were the virtuous, only to discover that they are just as lacking in virtue as those they are judging.
In a letter to a grandchild, a grandparent offers advice with love and kindness, though his advice may not be compatible with your own offerings. To be involved or not to be involved in situations which may negatively affect you or your family and friends, is the question. What would you do?
When a young man and woman, with no particular stand-out or outstanding qualities, find each other, they somehow morph into things of beauty to each other, and others, which proves that beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. Do your opinions often change because of the outward actions of people that you know? If others are accepting, do you follow suit? If they are judgmental, do you become a judge, as well? If a person appears confident, do you view them differently than someone who seems shy and retiring? Are both worthy of the same respect? Is the cover of the book more meaningful than the pages within it? Are you a follower or a leader?
The protagonists in each of the stories has ulterior motives and often, in order to compete or achieve a goal, manipulates and instigates others to do their bidding, even with a subtle form of bribery or blackmail. They justify the consequences of their behavior, on themselves and others, by their particular purpose or need. We witness this kind of behavior every day, in our own worlds, but it isn’t as obvious to us as it is in the worlds the author provides. We are in the forest and do not notice a single tree, but rather the multitude of them. We are simply used to the daily happenstance and seeming randomness of the events we witness regularly. We accept it all without question. The author has skillfully made it more obvious, by pointing out, and then illustrating, our human frailties, the very ones that we wish to avoid, the sins that we wish never to commit, but somehow, he makes it apparent that we all do exhibit poor behavior at times. Sometimes it is without thought. Sometimes it is very well thought out and planned. These are two different kinds of wrong doing, of evil behavior, but both are evil. The drunk driver who gets into an accident may be just as much a murderer as the serial killer. Although we witness this kind of behavior in our own daily lives, in the political environment in which we live, they are larger than life on these pages and serve as a mirror into our own souls. That, in a nutshell, is the gift of this author. He provides the mirror.
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I am a George Saunders short story fan, but I am also in awe of his ability to write so powerfully in so many genres. For a while now—he recently celebrated the first anniversary—I have been a subscriber to his Story Club, which is a constant source of delight for readers and aspiring writers alike. So of course, when NetGalley announced Liberation Day was being offered, I immediately requested a copy. As the publisher succinctly asserts, "this is a masterful collection...cutting to the heart of what it means to live in a community with our fellow humans". Saunders' stories are sometimes surprisingly dystopian, (ok, maybe I shouldn't be surprised by now) but always deeply felt and balanced with humor. Though he tackles a wide-range of themes, each individual story is a compelling piece of the collection, testament to his powerful prose. I am in awe of the wild imagination that fuels these stories, and the patience Saunders employs to craft each perfect sentence.
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I was first introduced to George Saunders in a creative writing class I took in college. I remember being in awe. Saunders is nothing if not creative, and I have always been intrigued in his work since that class. Honestly, I don’t always “get” it, but I’m usually here for the ride.

As with most short story collections, some grab you more than others, but all were entertaining. Thank you to @netgalley for the digital copy.
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As always I love him. I consistently feel like George Saunders is having fun writing and it makes me very happy to read his work. Also love all the continued focus on amusement parks, novelty entertainments, hired (indentured?) protestors....just like, curious sites of artifice and weirdness and often moral bankrupt-ness with it. "Ghoul"/"Elliott Spencer"/"Liberation Day" are a perfect little triad of this, but all the other stories are really great too and bring all other sorts of wicked fun.
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A George Saunders story collection is a much-awaited literary event, a creative writing masterclass, and a profound pleasure all in one. This collection is filled with gems both satirical and sad. Each of these nine stories causes us to question our own humanity, our world, and our place in that world. Having read through the book once, I went right back to the beginning to read again more slowly and with more intention and purpose. There are very few writers alive today whose works invite this kind of reading.
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This is a lovely collection from an inimitable storyteller. I definitely don't know what I'm talking about in this regard, but having read and loved A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, I feel like I can see the influence of the Russian masters in the types of stories Saunders tells as well as how he tells them. But they're also, in addition, incredibly weird. I really love that combination.
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