'This Week' Transcript: Two Powerhouse Roundtables

FALLON: The Federal Reserve was hacked on Sunday. It's pretty serious. In fact, they're saying the hackers could have made off with as much as negative $14 trillion. We don't have anything.

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(UNKNOWN): Robin Roberts is coming back to the show. You know, she's...

(UNKNOWN): Oh, my god.

(UNKNOWN): Welcome back, girlfriend.

(UNKNOWN): Welcome back, Robin.

(UNKNOWN): Robin, I love you, God bless you.

(UNKNOWN): We have missed you.

(UNKNOWN): We love you.

(UNKNOWN): We love you.

WINFREY: Hey, Robin. Welcome back.

(UNKNOWN): Welcome back.

(UNKNOWN): Welcome back, Robin.

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STEPHANOPOULOS: We not wait for that, Wednesday, February 20th -- excuse me -- Robin will be back. We are counting the days. And right now, we have the Sunday spotlight, shining this week on George Saunders. Short story collections almost never crack the best-seller list, but Saunders has done it with his new book, "Tenth of December." The New York Times hailed him as the writer for our time in a buzzy feature, saying he wrote the "best book you'll read this year." It is the best fiction I've read this year.

So it's a real pleasure...

SAUNDERS: Nice to be here.

STEPHANOPOULOS: ... to welcome you to "This Week." And, boy, you must be loving all of this attention.

SAUNDERS: Yeah, I think when I was younger, I might have gotten a little bit, you know, neurotic, but now I'm just having a great time.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, and you've earned it. And the book really is remarkable. It's so rich in so many ways, funny and dark, realistic and absurd at the same time. But what I want to focus on for just these few minutes is that, you know, something that we talk about all the time here on "This Week," this -- you really seem to tap into this economic anxiety that so many Americans are feeling right now.

SAUNDERS: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, it seems like that's the big American subject that we can't -- you know, you can talk about race, you can talk about sex, you can talk about your biopsy, but when you get into class, people kind of clench up. And I had -- you know, in my 20s, I had a series of that kind of classic American experience, where you are kind of going down and you think, "That's enough, now I'm going to turn myself around," and then you go down a little more. So I think that kind of had a tenderizing effect and kind of...

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say, when you started that, that experience, you were an Ayn Rand guy, you said.

SAUNDERS: I very much was. I went to the School of Mines in Colorado and kind of -- you know, kind of a dull-witted, sort of vaguely right-wing kind of person who didn't really know much about politics. And then I went to Asia in the oil business, and that really opened up my eyes, you know, to suffering and to the fact that wealth doesn't necessarily indicate that you are virtuous. It's just sort of -- an element of luck and so on, so...

STEPHANOPOULOS: And one of the things you write about is -- I think the phrase as you've said is the absence of wealth creates an erosion of grace.

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