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George Saunders' "A Swim In A Pond": Lessons in Literature & Life

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Zach Krahmer
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George Saunders writes essays, short stories and novels, and teaches creative writing at Syracuse University

(This conversation was originally aired on March 3, 2021)

Good afternoon and welcome to an archive edition of Midday.  Tom's guest is the author, George Saunders. He’s published hundreds of short stories, and he’s the winner of the Man Booker Prize for his first novel, Lincoln in the Bardo. 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.

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Penguin Random House Publishers

Tom describes George Saunders as "a wholly original, surprising and powerfully imaginative writer whose work is unlike anything I’ve read before. His writing," Tom adds, "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 joined Tom on Zoom. Their conversation was recorded in early March, 2021. Because this is a re-broadcast of Midday, we aren’t able to take any new calls or comments.

Host, Midday (M-F 12:00-1:00)
Rob is Midday's senior producer.
Malarie is Midday's Supervisory Producer.