Sumanth Prabhaker interviews Booker Prize winning novelist and short story author George Saunders on his work habits, how he leavens his characters to give them autonomy, and the infinite power of the short story.

I found early that, given my limited talent, one way I could reliably make drama was to manufacture some hardship for my character. In (sometimes) exaggerating that state (no sunlit days, at all, ever), the whole thing tips over into the comic and, in the process, the meaning seems to sharpen.

The short story, I’m learning, can do anything. But I do feel that there’s something innately cautionary about the form. The story states Truth A and immediately we are waiting for…well, for change. So the story you’re suggesting might start with one model for “rebuilding” but then, because it would be human beings doing the rebuilding, there would, no doubt, be a complication. That’s what makes it a story.