'Here’s something I know to be true, although it’s a little corny, and I don’t quite know what to do with it: What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness'
Three months after George Saunders gave a convocation address at Syracuse University, a transcript of that speech was posted on the website of The New York Times, where its simple, uplifting message struck a deep chord. Within days, it had been shared more than one million times. Why? Because Saunders’s words tap into a desire in all of us to lead kinder, more fulfilling lives.
Powerful, funny, and wise, Congratulations, by the way is an inspiring message from one of today’s most influential and original writers.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
Commencement speeches are a big deal in the US. The most famous is probably the one made by Steve Jobs, in which he delivers three key messages and which is often used as a model of the perfect speech because he makes important life-lesson points but delivered in a very personal way.
Novelist George Saunders is less well-known than some celebrity commencement speakers, except to readers of the New Yorker or fans of his books, including Tenth of December. He is enjoying a moment, as the media likes to say.
In this admirable speech, Saunders focuses on an unfashionable quality that we could all do with more of: kindness. It is not something the young usually think of because they are in such a hurry to get somewhere and striving does not leave much room for consideration of other people. But Saunders reminds his audience, and us, gently, of how significant small gestures of thoughtfulness lubricate social interaction with friends and with strangers and cure us of our ingrained, instinctive selfishness.
It's never too late to start practising what he preaches.
About the Author
George Saunders is an American writer of short stories, essays, novellas and children's books. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, McSweeney's and GQ
We're lucky to have him Jonathan Franzen A morally passionate, serious writer Zadie Smith There is really no one like him Lorrie Moore
Number Of Pages: 64
Published: 1st June 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 18.7 x 11.7 x 1.1
Weight (kg): 0.16
Edition Number: 1