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A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: From the Man Booker Prize-winning, New York Times-bestselling author of Lincoln in the Bardo Paperback – 1 February 2022

4.7 out of 5 stars 2,072 ratings

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Review

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

Saunders is such a wise and amiable teacher ... A page-turner -- Robert Webb

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

A masterclass from a warm and engagingly enthusiastic companion ―
Guardian, 50 hottest new books everyone should read

A masterclass in short fiction by one of the finest teachers alive. It is a joyously civilised primer on how to write - and live - better ―
Daily Telegraph

Warm, playful and acutely perceptive -- Ian Leslie ―
New Statesman, Books of the Year

Not just astute, humane lit crit but an inspirational manifesto for the art of fiction -- Boyd Tonkin ―
Spectator, Books of the Year

A masterclass in writing . a real treat -- Naomi Alderman ―
Spectator, Books of the Year

[I] loved George Saunders's
A Swim in a Pond in the Rain . Genial, generous and illuminating ... He is a great teacher as well as a great practitioner, and makes you see more ― Times Literary Supplement, Books of the Year 2021

A tin of caviar sort of a book . Saunders guides, prods, nudges, urges you to disagree . It will stay with you and transform how you read story by story, sentence by sentence ―
Sunday Times, 24 best fiction books 2021

Delightful as well as an engaging work-out for the brain. Just the thing for a New Year's read ―
i paper

In clear, fresh, often humorous language, Saunders reveals the various sleights of hand involved in their construction, while never trying to flatten their essential genius. A gem -- Craig Brown ―
Mail on Sunday

Joyful and playful, a book full of wisdom, one to drink in slowly ―
Independent (Online), The 20 Best Books of 2021

An eagle-eyed breakdown of short stories by four great Russian writers ―
Prospect, Best books of 2021

Saunders is warm and vivacious company, funny and even-handed and increasingly wise . This book is an enthralling delve into life and its narration - for people interested in how fiction works, it's like breathing oxygen
Revew31, Books of the Year 2021

Book Description

From theManBooker 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

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Bloomsbury Publishing (1 February 2022)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 432 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1526624249
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1526624246
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 12.8 x 3 x 19.7 cm
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 2,072 ratings

About the author

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George Saunders is the author of nine books, including Tenth of December, which was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the inaugural Folio Prize (for the best work of fiction in English) and the Story Prize (best short-story collection). He has received MacArthur and Guggen-heim 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.

georgesaundersbooks.com

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
2,072 global ratings

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Top reviews from Australia

Reviewed in Australia on 2 July 2021
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Top reviews from other countries

N. Tucker
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't judge a book by its torn cover
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 14 January 2021
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63 people found this helpful
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Tom Ryan
3.0 out of 5 stars An appetiser for the short stories of the great Russian writers of the 19th century
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 31 January 2021
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50 people found this helpful
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Mr. P. F. Harrison
1.0 out of 5 stars A bit of a swiz
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 8 February 2021
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18 people found this helpful
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Dermot
2.0 out of 5 stars The stores are - mostly - excellent; the analysis is so so.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 24 February 2021
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17 people found this helpful
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lilysmum
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublimely beautiful writing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 June 2021
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lilysmum
5.0 out of 5 stars Sublimely beautiful writing
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 June 2021
What a joy to read this book. It’s sublime. Saunders takes you through a small collection of Russian short stories and explores the craft of writing in minute and spellbinding detail. There are stories by Chekhov, Tolstoy and Gogol included, and each story is printed in full so that you can first of all read it and reach your own conclusions and then compare your reactions to Saunders’ own.
There are fascinating insights into the writers’ lives. For example, did you know that Gogol was obsessed with noses, afraid of leeches abs could touch the top of his nose with his tongue? Or that his nickname at school was “the mysterious dwarf”? I didn’t either. Did you know Tolstoy had 13 children? (His poor wife). There’s so much humour, too. I laughed out loud.
There are also delightful comments about life in general which seem to speak to me: ‘Power is held by shitheads; virtuous people suffer unfairly. Happy, fortunate people, to whom everything has been given, preach positivity to sad, unlucky people, who were given nothing. We push the button labelled ‘I Need Help’ and one of those boxing gloves comes out and hits us in the face as the machine lets out a comic farting noise.’
Although I didn’t always agree with the author’s evaluations and deconstructions of the texts, I found his insights and analysis totally fascinating, and the experience of reading this book has made me: more aware of what I need to do to improve my writing (basically, revision and causation); more aware of the body of Russian literature that I need to read; burn with desire to attend a series of lectures with the author and engage with his teaching in greater depth. Which isn’t likely to happen. But that’s life.
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