Swamplandia!

By Karen Russell
(Knopf Publishing Group, Hardcover, 9780307263995, 315pp.)

Publication Date: February 1, 2011

List Price: $26.00*
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Selected by Indie Booksellers for the February 2011 Indie Next List
“Located in the Florida Everglades, the Swamplandia island theme park is also home to the Bigtrees, a family of alligator wrestlers. When the mom and star of the show dies, the Bigtree way of life unravels. Dad heads to the mainland to find investors, while his three teenagers are left to deal with their losses. Kiwi attempts to infiltrate a rival amusement park, Ossie falls in love with a ghost, and the story's 13-year-old narrator, Ava, wrestles with a force more fearsome than gators: the loss of innocence. Karen Russell's sentences are so beautiful and original, they will leave you breathless!”
-- Michael Keefe, Annie Bloom's Books, Portland, OR


Description

From the celebrated twenty-nine-year-old author of the everywhere-heralded short-story collection St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (“How I wish these were my own words, instead of the breakneck demon writer Karen Russell’s . . . Run for your life. This girl is on fire”—Los Angeles Times Book Review) comes a blazingly original debut novel that takes us back to the swamps of the Florida Everglades, and introduces us to Ava Bigtree, an unforgettable young heroine.

The Bigtree alligator-wrestling dynasty is in decline, and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, formerly #1 in the region, is swiftly being encroached upon by a fearsome and sophisticated competitor called the World of Darkness. Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, has just died; her sister, Ossie, has fallen in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, who may or may not be an actual ghost; and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, who dreams of becoming a scholar, has just defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their family business from going under. Ava’s father, affectionately known as Chief Bigtree, is AWOL; and that leaves Ava, a resourceful but terrified thirteen, to manage ninety-eight gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief.

Against a backdrop of hauntingly fecund plant life animated by ancient lizards and lawless hungers, Karen Russell has written an utterly singular novel about a family’s struggle to stay afloat in a world that is inexorably sinking. An arrestingly beautiful and inventive work from a vibrant new voice in fiction.




About the Author
Karen Russell, a native of Miami, has been featured in both "The New Yorker's" debut fiction issue and "New York" magazine's list of twenty-five people to watch under the age of twenty-six. She is a graduate of the Columbia MFA program and is the 2005 recipient of the Transatlantic Review/Henfield Foundation Award; her fiction has recently appeared in "Conjunctions," "Granta," "Zoetrope," "Oxford American," and "The New Yorker," Twenty-five years old, she lives in New York City.


NPR
Monday, May 30, 2011

Some of the best summers are those filled with journeys, reunions and good food � three themes that factor prominently in the books recommended by our independent booksellers. More at NPR.org

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NPR
Wednesday, Feb 9, 2011

Author Karen Russell talks to All Things Considered co-host Melissa Block about her eclectic literary tastes, life in the Everglades and other influences for her debut novel, Swamplandia! � about a gator-wrestling, theme-park-owning family More at NPR.org

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