George Saunders’ Syracuse Graduation Speech to Be Published


In 2005, David Foster Wallace delivered his famous commencement speech to Kenyon’s graduating class, which was notorious for invoking the story about two young fish unable to recognize they are swimming in water.

The speech was met with such widespread admiration and awe that it was published as This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life by Little, Brown & Company in 2009.

Now, George Saunders’ own convocation speech—a heartfelt plea to “err in the direction of kindness” delivered this past spring to Syracuse University’s graduating class—is up for publication as well. Ever since it was reprinted in full over at The 6th Floor, the blog of The New York Times Magazine, the speech has garnered enough public attention to warrant adaptation to print. Random House plans to publish the book (called Congratulations, By the Way) next spring.


Paolo Yumol is an intern at The Rumpus. He attends Oberlin College and is very grateful to be doing any of this. More from this author →