In "A Swim In A Pond...," George Saunders' Literary Life Lessons
The American essayist mines stories by four famed Russian authors for insights on writing, reading, and life.
(This conversation was originally broadcast on March 3, 2021)
Tom's guest in this archive edition of Midday is the American author, George Saunders. He’s published hundreds of short stories, and his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo, won the prestigious Man Booker Prize in 2017. Saunders’ short stories have been published in The New Yorker, Harper’s and many other magazines, and collected in best-selling books like The Tenth of December, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and which Time Magazine called one of the ten best books of the decade.
Tom describes George Saunders as "a wholly original, surprising and powerfully imaginative writer whose work is unlike anything I’ve read before. His writing seems to re-invent the rules for how fiction is structured and re-imagine how storytelling can unfold."
In 1997, George Saunders joined the faculty of his graduate school alma mater, Syracuse University. Earlier this year, he published his 11th book, which is a fascinating peroration that draws on his experience in the classroom.Saunders has chosen seven stories by a quartet of famous Russian authors: Chekhov, Tolstoy, Turgenev, and Gogol. He examines, explains, and riffs on each story, and in the process, with joy and wonder and delight, he offers insight into how we read, and how great authors write.
It’s called A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Masterclass on Writing, Reading, and Life.George Saunders joins us on Zoom from Oneonta, New York.
(Listeners, because this program was previously recorded, we couldn't take any new comments or questions.)