ALL-NEW MATERIAL: Over half the book is all-new, never-before-published writing from Saunders, including a PROLOGUE, EPILOGUE, and WRITING EXERCISES in the back. The remainder is the Russian stories, included here in full.
SEVEN ALL-ORIGINAL ESSAYS, PAIRED WITH CLASSIC SHORT STORIES FROM RUSSIAN MASTERS: “In the Cart” (Chekhov); “The Singers” (Turgenev); “The Darling” (Chekhov); “Master and Man” (Tolstoy); “The Nose” (Gogol); “Gooseberries” (Chekhov); “Alyosha the Pot” (Tolstoy). Translations of the stories appear alongside each of Saunders’s essays.
MAJOR LITERARY EVENT: The closest readers will get to taking a writing class with George Saunders.
OVER HALF OF THE BOOK (roughly 56%) IS ALL NEW, NEVER-BEFORE-PUBLISHED WRITING FROM SAUNDERS, the remaining 44% of the text will be translations of the Russian stories.
HIGHLY ANTICIPATED RELEASE: This is the first new book from Saunders since he won the Booker Prize for Lincoln in the Bardo, which broadened his base of readers and established him as one of our generation’s most important literary voices.
BESTSELLING TRACK RECORD: Saunders has had three New York Times bestsellers in six years: Lincoln in the Bardo (which was a #1 New York Times bestseller, and has sold nearly 600k), Tenth of December (over 400k sold), and Congratulations, by the Way (over 80k sold).
A BELOVED WRITING PROFESSOR: Saunders’s dedication to his writing students at Syracuse University is legendary, and now he’ll be able to impart some of that expertise and passion for the craft to a broader audience.
A video of Saunders, talking about the art—and the mystery—of writing, for The Atlantic: www.youtube.com/watch?v=1-1xNNrABw8
“Saunders is a gentle giant in American letters whose fiction frequently champions the downtrodden and satirizes a society rife with economic inequality. . . . [A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is] an analysis of classic Russian fiction that doubles as an introductory seminar on the mechanics of short stories—namely, how do they work and why? . . . Why does fiction matter now? The answer, Saunders finds, lies in understanding reading to be a kind of life skill—for understanding our position in the world, for arbitrating truth.”—The Wall Street Journal
“This book is a delight, and it’s about delight too. . . . [A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is] very different from just another ‘how to’ creative writing manual, or just another critical essay. . . . One of the pleasures of this book is feeling [Saunders’s] 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.”—The Guardian
“Saunders discusses each story’s structure, energy flow, the questions it raises, and how “meaning is made,” embracing both technical finesse and the mysteries at creation’s core. . . . An invaluable and uniquely pleasurable master course and a generous celebration of reading, writing, and all the ways literature enriches our lives.”—Booklist (starred review)
“A master of contemporary fiction joyously assesses some of the best of the nineteenth century.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[A] true gift to writers and serious readers . . . With infectious enthusiasm and generosity of spirit, Saunders delves into seven stories that he calls the ‘seven fastidiously constructed scale models of the world.’ . . . While the genesis of A Swim in a Pond in the Rain can be found in the creative writing classroom—and writers at any level of their careers will glean priceless pearls from nearly every page—the genius of Saunders’s book, and his clear intention in offering it up, is to elucidate literature for the engaged reader, deepening the reading experience. It is also a blueprint for a greater engagement with humanity.”—BookPage
“Superb mix of instruction and literary criticism . . . Saunders’s generous teachings—and the classics they’re based on—are sure to please.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The subtitle to this exhilarating and erudite work of non-fiction by the Booker Prizewinning author of Lincoln in the Bardo and Tenth of December is: “In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life.” In it, one of the greatest short story writers of our time draws on his own love of Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy and Gogol—and on his joy in teaching them to his MFA students at Syracuse University. The result is a worship song to writers and readers.”—O: The Oprah Magazine