George Saunders - "A Swim in a Pond in the Rain" - Audrey Niffenegger

Wednesday, May 4, 2022 - 7:00pm - 8:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
George Saunders

George Saunders will discuss his book A Swim in a Pond in the Rain. He will be joined in conversation by Audrey Niffenegger.

Presented in partnership with local Chicago Independent Bookstores in celebration of Independent Bookstore Day. 


This event is free and open to the public. Purchase a copy of the book HERE

About the book: 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, offering some of what he and his students have discovered together over the years. 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. In his introduction, Saunders writes, "We're going to enter seven fastidiously constructed scale models of the world, made for a specific purpose that our time maybe doesn't fully endorse but that these writers accepted implicitly as the aim of art—namely, to ask the big questions, questions like, How are we supposed to be living down here? What were we put here to accomplish? What should we value? What is truth, anyway, and how might we recognize it?" He 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.

About the author: A writer with deep Chicago roots, 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 WayTenth of December, a finalist for the National Book Award; The Braindead Megaphone; and the critically acclaimed short story collections CivilWarLand in Bad DeclinePastoralia, and In Persuasion Nation. He teaches in the creative writing program at Syracuse University.

About the interlocutor: Audrey Niffenegger is an internationally known author and artist who grew up in Evanston, Illinois and currently lives in Chicago and London. Her novel The Time Traveler’s Wife was made into a movie in 2009 and will soon be an HBO series, written by Steven Moffat. Her graphic novel Raven Girl was the basis for a Wayne McGregor ballet at the Royal Opera House Ballet. She is one of the founders of the Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts and she is the Founder/President of the Artists Book House, a new organization devoted to the Book Arts that is located in Evanston’s former Harley Clarke Mansion.

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