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For more than 20 years, Booker Prize-winning writer George Saunders has taught in Syracuse University’s creative writing MFA program. In A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life, with a tone that’s collegial, bordering on playful, he’s opened one of his favorite classes, on 19th century Russian short stories, to the masses. The anthology comprises seven short stories from Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy and Gogol, with Saunders’ questions and analyses interspersed. It’s the next best thing to sitting in the room with him. Academic but accessible, these stories and related essays will especially be of interest to fiction die-hards, but also to anyone interested in new ways of seeing and understanding the world.

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