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George Saunders

George Saunders is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of ten books, including Lincoln in the Bardo, which won the Man Booker Prize; Congratulations, by the way; Tenth of December, a finalist for the National Book Award; The Braindead Megaphone; and the critically acclaimed short story collections CivilWarLand in Bad Decline, Pastoralia, and In Persuasion Nation. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.

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(VIRTUAL EVENT) From the 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. 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.

Saunders 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.

Guest Host | Doug Stanton

Doug Stanton is a #1 New York Times bestselling author whose writing has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post, TIME, Newsweek, and Esquire, where he’s been a contributing editor. He received an MFA from the Writers’ Workshop at the University of Iowa, graduating with coursework in fiction and poetry workshops. He’s worked as a creative writing teacher, a caretaker of Robert Frost’s house, and once took an acting lesson from Harrison Ford in a restaurant. His award-winning books have been named New York Times, Publisher’s Weekly, and Amazon Notable/Best books. His book Horse Soldiers was the basis for the Chris Hemsworth movie 12 Strong.

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This activity is supported in part by and award from the MICHIGAN COUNCIL FOR ARTS AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS, MICHIGAN HUMANITIES COUNCIL and the NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS.

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This activity is supported in part by and award from the MICHIGAN COUNCIL FOR ARTS AND CULTURAL AFFAIRS, MICHIGAN HUMANITIES COUNCIL and the NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS.

Raising Writers Grantor