A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders
»» For the aspiring musician, there is no better foundational subject material to study than that which is provided by the all-time greats; Bach, Beethoven, Mozart. Thus, if one is an aspiring writer, the same logic would apply. Of course, there are (and will be) differing opinions on what authors, eras and genres are deemed to be ‘foundational’.
For George Saunders, who has been teaching at Syracuse University for over 20 years, the answer to this is Russian literature. Comprising seven of his favorite essays (and subsequent discussion/analysis), A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is a glimpse of the collegiate class that Saunders teaches.
The essays, combined with Saunders’ love of and belief in Russian fiction as a ‘moral-ethical’ tool from which readers (and writers) can answer life’s most valuable questions is a true delight to experience. A Swim in a Pond in the Rain is a wonderful source for both readers and writers alike!
Gold Diggers by Sanjena Sathian
»» The debut novel from Sanjena Sathian, Gold Diggers is primarily the life story of Neil Narayan as reflected on by Neil Narayan, the son of Indian immigrants growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta in the early 2000’s.
Faced with the pressures of adolescence, and more than satisfied to simply exist, Neil gives voice to a multitude of second generation Americans. As a child of immigrants, Neil feels and faces immense pressure to validate the sacrifices made by his parents, to grow up in a certain way. Through Neil, Sathian gives voice to this generation, providing insight into this unique ‘American experience’.
Yet, Gold Diggers is not a cut and dry coming-of-age immigrant story. From the start, Sathian weaves an alchemically tinted tale with threads connecting past and present. Her deft incorporation of mythological, fantastical elements is intoxicating, and the progression of Neil’s story illustrates the beauty of continuity and connectivity between the self and history, between past and present.
Reviews by Joel
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