A Swim in a Pond in the Rain : From the Man Booker Prize-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of Lincoln in the Bardo
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'This book is a delight, and it's about delight too. How necessary, at our particular moment' Tessa Hadley, Guardian
From the New York Times-bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo and Tenth of December comes a literary master class on what makes great stories work and what they can tell us about ourselves - and our world today.
For the last twenty years, George Saunders has been teaching a class on the Russian short story to his MFA students at Syracuse University. In A Swim in a Pond in the Rain, he shares a version of that class with us, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years. Paired with iconic short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol, the seven essays in this book are intended for anyone interested in how fiction works and why it's more relevant than ever in these turbulent times.
In his introduction, Saunders writes, "We're going to enter seven fastidiously constructed scale models of the world, made for a specific purpose that our time maybe doesn't fully endorse but that these writers accepted implicitly as the aim of art-namely, to ask the big questions, questions like, How are we supposed to be living down here? What were we put here to accomplish? What should we value? What is truth, anyway, and how might we recognize it?" He approaches the stories technically yet accessibly, and through them explains how narrative functions; why we stay immersed in a story and why we resist it; and the bedrock virtues a writer must foster. The process of writing, Saunders reminds us, is a technical craft, but also a way of training oneself to see the world with new openness and curiosity.
A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is a deep exploration not just of how great writing works but of how the mind itself works while reading, and of how the reading and writing of stories make genuine connection possible.
- Hardback | 432 pages
- 135 x 216 x 224mm | 569g
- 12 Jan 2021
- Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
- London, United Kingdom
Suffice to say, the hairs on the back of my neck were alert * The Times * Suffused with wry humour ... Not an academic interpretation, but a reader's companion. I was pleasurably absorbed from start to finish * Evening Standard * The Booker-winning author of Lincoln in the Bardo considers the art of fiction through seven classic Russian short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy and Gogol * Guardian, 2021 in Books * The combination of Saunders's piercing mind and the Russian subjects being Anton Chekhov, Ivan Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy and Nikolai Gogol promises to be a highbrow treat for fans of literature, and a book offering deep insights into storytelling and how narrative functions * Independent, The books to look out for in 2021 * A literary masterclass * Evening Standard, A look ahead to the best new books in 2021 * Part intro to Russian literature, part musings on craft, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is all pleasure * Financial Times * His warmth, enthusiasm and homespun metaphors - all part of that "writerly charm" - banish any sense of the chilly, mechanistic Fiction Lab ... Gleefully overshoots its brief as a technical manual or how-to guide ... A Swim in a Pond in the Rain generates more fun, more wit, more sympathetic sense, than we have any right to hope for from a 400-page critical study * Arts Desk * Praise for George Saunders: A morally passionate, serious writer ... He will be read long after these times have passed -- ZADIE SMITH George Saunders makes you feel as though you are reading fiction for the first time -- KHALED HOSSEINI What warm, kindhearted and radical writing. Such delicacy, such serious wit. I love it -- MAX PORTER Reading George Saunders is, it's safe to say, like no other literary experience * OBSERVER * He makes the all-but-impossible look effortless. We're lucky to have him -- JONATHAN FRANZEN No one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised -- MICHIKO KAKUTANI * NEW YORK TIMES * Few people cut as hard or deep as Saunders does -- JUNOT DIAZ A luminous feat of generosity and humanism -- COLSON WHITEHEAD * NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW * Saunders is a true original - restlessly inventive, yet deeply humane -- JENNIFER EGAN Surreal and puncturing -- MARGARET ATWOOD Funny, poignant - in flashes, deeply moving - light as a feather and consistently weird -- HARI KUNZRU
About George Saunders