Saunders is an American writer in the same way that Chingiz Aitmatov is a Kyrgyz writer or Robert Service is a Yukon poet. He speaks for the place. He especially speaks for the lower-class white part of the place. And if, like me, that is a part of America you know well, but from which you have become estranged in later life, then it can be particularly gratifying to see Saunders describing it with such great power of observation. The encounters in “Puppy” and in “Home”, between the benighted, marginalized lower classes, on the one hand, and the equally benighted, but vastly more self-satisfied, so-called ‘middle class’ on the other, seem to tell the whole story of America, and a good part of my own life history in America. When the middle-class mom goes to pick up the puppy from the white-trash family, and sees “the dry aquarium holding the single encyclopedia volume, the pasta pot on the bookshelf with an inflatable candy cane inexplicably sticking out of it,” I swear I have known both sides of this encounter with equal intimacy, and love, and desire to get away.