• The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil

  • By: George Saunders
  • Narrated by: George Saunders
  • Length: 2 hrs and 4 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (64 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the number-one New York Times best-selling author of the Man Booker Prize-winning novel Lincoln in the Bardo and the story collection Tenth of December, a 2013 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.

In a profoundly strange country called Inner Horner, large enough for only one resident at a time, citizens waiting to enter the country fall under the rule of the power-hungry and tyrannical Phil, setting off a chain of injustice and mass hysteria. 

An Animal Farm for the 21st century, this is an incendiary political satire of unprecedented imagination, spiky humor, and cautionary appreciation for the hysteric in everyone. Over six years in the writing, this novella is Saunders' first stand-alone, book-length work - and his first book for adults in five years. 

Includes an original song by the author.

“The Phil Stomp” was written and performed by George Saunders and recorded, mixed, and mastered by Peter Coleman at Indigital Studios in Santa Cruz, California.

©2019 George Saunders (P)2019 Random House Audio

What listeners say about The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

4.02 stars

This is a funny and entertaining novella. It’s probably fine for kids too. Saunders also narrates this audiobook, and he’s a really good narrator. It’s hard to believe he wrote this in back 2005. This novel is probably more relevant today than when he first released it. It's a quirky tale, but it's also brief and frightening at the same time.

Overall rating: 4.02 stars

5 people found this helpful

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“Our country is big, let us be big.”

This novella is one part Animal Farm, one part Gulliver's Travels. Part parable, part satire, it is (not to give to much of too little away) a short novella about border disputes, leadership, the media, and standing up to oppression. It was published in 2005 under the GWB administration, but feels (because of global border disputes) more relevant today in 2019 than even it was in 2005.

It is cute, at times funny, quick, and narratively interesting. It just isn't Saunders great. It is a minor moon and not even a planet in his solar system. But still, it is a "lush, full moon" at that.

2 people found this helpful

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Gogol and Lewis Carroll and Saunders Hold Hands...

...and pass through the Looking Glass...into a strange, strangely invented world. We know this at the very outset, from an absurd first paragraph that tells us what we most need to know about this world. "It’s one thing to be a small country, but the country of Inner Horner was so small only one Inner Hornerite at a time could fit inside, and the other six Inner Hornerites had to wait their turns to live in their own country while standing very timidly in the surrounding country of Outer Horner."

Saunders' Inner and Outer Horner is cluttered with absurdities, absurdities that, as we go along, with its absurd citizenry and its absurd President and its absurdly ambitious Phil of the title, take shape as a parable for our times, a parable of political power gone absolute and thus mad, written by Saunders 11 years earlier than the reality that descended on the world's greatest Democracy...a quick, satisfying novella that should stimulate some readerly thought along one or more of several paths.

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Excellent story

it's a story about real life even though it seems so strange at first. amazing how barbaric humans can be. read for a class, required. really enjoyed. gets people to think, I hope. love the author narrating