u003cbu003eFrom the u003ciu003eNew York Timesu003c/iu003e bestselling, Booker Prize-winning author of u003ciu003eLincoln in the Bardou003c/iu003e and u003ciu003eTenth of Decemberu003c/iu003e comes a literary master class on what makes great stories work and what they can tell us about ourselves--and our world today.u003c/bu003eu003cbru003e u003cbru003e 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 u003ciu003eA Swim in a Pond in the Rainu003c/iu003e, 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.u003cbru003e u003cbru003e 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.u003cbru003e u003cbru003e u003ciu003eA Swim in a Pond in the Rainu003c/iu003e 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.