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A Swim in a Pond in the Rain


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From the Man Booker Prize-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of Lincoln in the Bardo, a literary masterclass on how to become both a better writer and reader, on what makes great stories work, and what they can tell us about how to live

About the Author

George Saunders is the author of nine books, including Lincoln in the Bardo, winner of the 2017 Man Booker Prize and the Premio Rezzori prize, which was also shortlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award. Tenth of December was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the inaugural Folio Prize. He has received MacArthur and Guggenheim fellowships and the PEN/Malamud Prize for excellence in the short story, and was recently elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2013, he was named one of the world's 100 most influential people by Time magazine. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.


A wonderful book ... This book is a delight ... I love the warmth with which he writes about this teaching, and agree wholeheartedly ... All this makes Saunders's book very different from just another "how to" creative writing manual, or just another critical essay ... One of the pleasures of this book is feeling his own thinking move backwards and forwards, between the writer dissecting practice and the reader entering in through the spell of the words, to dwell inside the story -- Tessa Hadley * Guardian *
Luminously perceptive * Guardian *
A masterclass in how to be human ... unfailingly, often thrillingly illuminating ... Published any time, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain would be a joyous reminder that fiction is "the most effective mode of mind-to-mind communication ever devised". Published now, it feels like vital and civilising corrective to the pretend certainties of public life - and, increasingly, of our personal lives too * Telegraph *
One of the most accurate and beautiful depictions of what it is like to be inside the mind of a writer that I've ever read * New York Times *
The Russian greats truly shine in this account; but Saunders is the real star. His way of expressing himself is simultaneously supremely intellectual and jovially down-to-earth. It's rare to read a book and love it so much that you think it's simply perfect. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is that book -- Viv Groskop * Spectator *
Joins a long tradition of using Russian literature as a guide to life ... Practical and playful ... it also probes exactly how narrative techniques make us more alert, attentive and sympathetic in reading books and the world around us * i news *
By the end Saunders is wondering if there is indeed any point in writing at all. I won't spoil his conclusion. 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 *
But the real star of A Swim isn't Chekhov or Turgenev or Tolstoy or Gogol - it's Saunders himself ... This book will quite simply make you a better, more observant and more understanding reader * Big Issue *
Part intro to Russian literature, part musings on craft, A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is all pleasure * Financial Times *
A worship song to writers and readers * O, The Oprah Magazine *
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 *
There should be more books like this -- Sameer Rahim * Prospect Podcast *
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

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