With his short stories, bestselling author George Saunders invites readers to experience a kind of emotional intimacy with the “normal people” of the world. Whether those characters are unremarkable stockroom workers, or exploited servants with erased memories, or a grandfather leaving his grandson uncomfortable advice, the stories these individuals inhabit are reminders that — though circumstances may seem wildly fantastical — their humanity remains the same.

Consider “Sparrow,” a short story found in Saunders' newest collection, "Liberation Day," which is being released today. "Sparrow" is fundamentally an office romance of the most unremarkable order. There’s a woman, whom no one would consider special by any stretch of the imagination; and a man, laden with his own quirks and possibly still working through a decades-old Oedipus complex. But their idiosyncrasies fall into a compatibility.

The reader, as Saunders points out, would normally look askance at the odd couple. But, unambiguously, we root for them. We’d go to that wedding. We are, after all, people deserving of human connection, people who deserve to be heard, and who deserve to be loved.

In our conversation, Saunders explains how his stories dictate their own direction. When he first began writing "Sparrow," for example, he believed it to be a story about a person in a low position who gets kicked even lower. Then he reconsidered.

"Is it the case that everybody who is considered by their community 'unremarkable' goes unloved? And like, no, of course that's not true," he recalled of that process. "So in a sense, I saw the direction the story was going and asked myself, could I take it another way?"

When you read the 2006 MacArthur Fellow’s short stories, you might notice how work is a recurring setting. Saunders has developed a knack for sublimating the drama of daily drudgery. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s goofy. Sometimes it’s sad. But it’s always real life.

Saunders used to work in an office, proofreading technical reports for an engineering firm, for a familiar eight hours a day. He was able to recognize that he didn’t actually want to be there. But as he recalls in my conversation with him, it was “the first time I understood love … I didn't want to be there, but I did, because the family that we were starting depended on it.”

In our conversation, the author discusses the relationship shared among reader, writer and character. He explains the journey that he goes on with his readers, likening himself to a rollercoaster architect who jumps in the car with you to see how the ride goes. He also discusses his writing process, and how his politics find their way into his craft.

Listen to the audio above to hear Saunders read from "Liberation Day" and discuss his observations on workplace drama and his writing process.

You can catch George Saunders in person at 7 p.m. Oct. 25 at an event hosted by Harvard Bookstore, 645 Boylston St. He'll be in conversation with actress Jenny Slate.