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The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil is a profoundly strange story. Published in 2005, the political parable is astoundingly resonant of contemporary American politics. Aotearoa writer Jo Randerson speaks with George Saunders, one of the world’s most blazingly creative authors, about writing Phil and the place of darkness and kindness in stories today.

This is a digital event, George Saunders will appear live on screen.
George Saunders, photo by Chloe Aftel.jpg

George Saunders

United States


George Saunders is the author of nine books, including the novel Lincoln in the Bardo, which won the Man Booker Prize, and the story collections Pastoralia and Tenth of December, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 2006 he was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship. In 2013 he was awarded the PEN/Malamud Award for Excellence in Short Fiction and was included in Time’s list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.

Jo randerson.jpg

Jo Randerson

Aotearoa / New Zealand

Writer and Performer

Ko Māungawhau te māunga, ko Whanganui-a-Tara te moana.

Jo lives in Pōneke as Artistic Director of arts company Barbarian Productions, based in an old bowling club run by the local community. Jo is a playwright, short story writer and poet, as well as a performer and director. Winner of the Bruce Mason Playwrighting Award, the Robert Burns Fellowship and also a New Generation Arts Laureate, Jo’s work focusses on radical and fun ways of bringing people together to discuss issues where there is tension. She is also passionate about improving the infrastructure for artists in our country so they can live sustainably, and most of all about using poetry – in the broadest sense – to create change.


Renouf Foyer, Michael Fowler Centre

  • Wheelchair Access Symbol.png Wheelchair accessible
Duration: 1hr

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