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Swamplandia! (Vintage Contemporaries)

by

Swamplandia! (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover

 

Awards

The Rooster 2012 Morning News Tournament of Books Nominee

Staff Pick

Russell's debut novel is in a literary class of its own. Swamplandia! is a mystical, fascinating coming-of-age story told from the perspective of the charming 13-year-old Ava. A shabby tourist attraction in Florida and unpredictable family members flavor this highly imaginative novel.
Recommended by Kim S., Powells.com

I had never read a book about an alligator-wrestling theme park before, but, boy, did I ever love this one! Thirteen-year-old Ava is faced with the task of not only wrestling gators, but also of saving the theme park, her home, and her family. By turns hilarious, pensive, chilling, and redemptive, Swamplandia! starts out as a sort of swampy coming-of-age story, but, after wandering very far afield, ends up so much more. Truly wonderful.
Recommended by Dianah, Powells.com

Review-A-Day

"Writer Karen Russell is on record stating that, much as she loves reading realist fiction, she couldn't 'write a moving tale about a family of struggling car salesmen in Detroit,' even if 'somebody held a gun to my head.'

'But a family of alligator wrestlers in a mythic swamp? That,' she continued, 'I can do.'

Now she has, in Swamplandia!, a weird and wonderfully inventive first novel that also happens to be a moving, very real tale about a struggling family." Mike Fischer, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Read the entire Milwaukee Journal Sentinel review)

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"Ravishing, elegiac, funny, and brilliantly inquisitive, Russell's archetypal swamp saga tells a mystical yet rooted tale of three innocents who come of age through trials of water, fire, and air." Booklist (starred review)

Review:

"Quirky, outlandish fiction: To say it's offbeat is to seriously underestimate its weirdness." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Absolutely irresistible....A suspenseful, deeply haunted book....A marvel." The New York Times

Review:

"[Russell] has thrown the whole circus of her heart onto the page, safety nets be damned....Russell has deep and true talent." San Francisco Chronicle

Review:

"Vividly worded, exuberant in characterization, the novel is a wild ride....This family, wrestling with their desires and demons...will lodge in the memories of anyone lucky enough to read Swamplandia!" The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"The bewitching Swamplandia! is a tremendous achievement." Entertainment Weekly

Synopsis:

"For its darkness and its glee, I loved this novel." —Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbras 24-Hour Bookstore A high school music festival goes awry when a young prodigy disappears from a hotel room that was the site of a famous murder/suicide fifteen years earlier, in a whip-smart novel sparkling with the dark and giddy pop culture pleasures of The Shining, Agatha Christie, and Glee

Synopsis:

“Delightfully odd . . . A fine cast of misfits and dreamers and foes. A” — Entertainment Weekly
 
“Warm, entertaining and thoughtful . . . a glorious celebration of music.” — Minneapolis Star-Tribune
 
“For its darkness and its glee, I loved this novel.” — Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Fifteen years ago, a murder-suicide in room 712 rocked the grand old Bellweather Hotel and the young bridesmaid who witnessed it, Minnie Graves. Now hundreds of high school musicians have gathered in the hotel’s cavernous halls for the annual Statewide festival; Minnie has returned to face her demons; and a colossal snowstorm is threatening to trap them all in the hotel. When a young prodigy goes missing from infamous room 712, the search for her entwines an eccentric cast of conductors and caretakers, failures and stars, teenagers on the verge and adults trapped in memories. A genre-bending page-turner, full of knowing nods to pop culture classics from The Shining to Agatha Christie to Glee, Bellweather Rhapsody is a wholly winning new novel from a writer to watch.

Synopsis:

A New York Times Best Book of the Year

One of Granta's Best Young American Novelists

Selected for the New Yorker's 20 Under 40

Nominated for the Orange Prize

Thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree has lived her entire life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. But when illness fells Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, the family is plunged into chaos; her father withdraws, her sister falls in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, defects to a rival park called The World of Darkness. As Ava sets out on a mission through the magical swamps to save them all, we are drawn into a lush and bravely imagined debut that takes us to the shimmering edge of reality.

About the Author

Karen Russell, a native of Miami, has been featured in The New Yorker's debut fiction issue. She is a graduate of the Columbia MFA program and is the 2005 recipient of the Transatlantic Review/Henfield Foundation Award and was chosen as one of the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 in 2009. Her fiction has recently appeared in Conjunctions, Granta, Zoetrope, and Oxford American. Twenty-eight years old, she lives in New York City.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 29 comments:

alibeale, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by alibeale)
this is the kind of book that is a pleasure to begin reading - you know you are in the hands of a good writer. the subject matter(crazy 'circus' family and their conflicts) is also a pleasure - i love idiosyncratic families, that are really like everyone else, only more so. kind of reminds me of john irving's fantastical morality plays, but not as preachy.
i also like books that are filled with details about stuff i don't know about - like florida geography and folklore.
i highly recommend this for anyone who likes a good yarn -
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
leslee, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by leslee)
Savory and masterful, Swamplandia is like nothing I've ever read before, and I can't wait to read it again!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Madam Pince, October 25, 2012 (view all comments by Madam Pince)
I expected so much more from this novel: magical realism, Southern gothic, the kitsch of Florida. Instead I found a story that started off powerfully, but straggled into a tired, ordinary tale that overstayed its welcome -- by the time Ava makes her trip into Hell, the reader is already there. I expected much better from the author of St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 29 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780307276681
Author:
Russell, Karen
Publisher:
Vintage Books
Author:
Karen Russell
Author:
Racculia, Kate
Subject:
Literary
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
fiction;florida;alligators;everglades;ghosts;family;coming of age;novel;amusement parks;magical realism;swamp;death;alligator wrestling;contemporary fiction;literary fiction;american;grief;theme parks;family relationships;rape;literature;contemporary;ment
Subject:
fiction;florida;alligators;everglades;ghosts;family;coming of age;novel;amusement parks;magical realism;swamp;death;alligator wrestling;contemporary fiction;literary fiction;grief;american;theme parks;family relationships;rape;contemporary;literature;sibl
Subject:
General Fiction
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Series:
Vintage Contemporaries
Publication Date:
20110731
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
A <br> <i>&#160;</i><br> &ldquo;[Russell&rsquo;s]
Language:
English
Pages:
352
Dimensions:
8 x 5.31 in 1 lb

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Related Subjects


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History and Social Science » American Studies » Popular Culture

Swamplandia! (Vintage Contemporaries) Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.50 In Stock
Product details 352 pages Vintage Books - English 9780307276681 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Russell's debut novel is in a literary class of its own. Swamplandia! is a mystical, fascinating coming-of-age story told from the perspective of the charming 13-year-old Ava. A shabby tourist attraction in Florida and unpredictable family members flavor this highly imaginative novel.

"Staff Pick" by ,

I had never read a book about an alligator-wrestling theme park before, but, boy, did I ever love this one! Thirteen-year-old Ava is faced with the task of not only wrestling gators, but also of saving the theme park, her home, and her family. By turns hilarious, pensive, chilling, and redemptive, Swamplandia! starts out as a sort of swampy coming-of-age story, but, after wandering very far afield, ends up so much more. Truly wonderful.

"Review A Day" by , "Writer Karen Russell is on record stating that, much as she loves reading realist fiction, she couldn't 'write a moving tale about a family of struggling car salesmen in Detroit,' even if 'somebody held a gun to my head.'

'But a family of alligator wrestlers in a mythic swamp? That,' she continued, 'I can do.'

Now she has, in Swamplandia!, a weird and wonderfully inventive first novel that also happens to be a moving, very real tale about a struggling family." (Read the entire Milwaukee Journal Sentinel review)
"Review" by , "Ravishing, elegiac, funny, and brilliantly inquisitive, Russell's archetypal swamp saga tells a mystical yet rooted tale of three innocents who come of age through trials of water, fire, and air."
"Review" by , "Quirky, outlandish fiction: To say it's offbeat is to seriously underestimate its weirdness."
"Review" by , "Absolutely irresistible....A suspenseful, deeply haunted book....A marvel."
"Review" by , "[Russell] has thrown the whole circus of her heart onto the page, safety nets be damned....Russell has deep and true talent."
"Review" by , "Vividly worded, exuberant in characterization, the novel is a wild ride....This family, wrestling with their desires and demons...will lodge in the memories of anyone lucky enough to read Swamplandia!"
"Review" by , "The bewitching Swamplandia! is a tremendous achievement."
"Synopsis" by , "For its darkness and its glee, I loved this novel." &#8212;Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbras 24-Hour Bookstore A high school music festival goes awry when a young prodigy disappears from a hotel room that was the site of a famous murder/suicide fifteen years earlier, in a whip-smart novel sparkling with the dark and giddy pop culture pleasures of The Shining, Agatha Christie, and Glee
"Synopsis" by ,
“Delightfully odd . . . A fine cast of misfits and dreamers and foes. A” — Entertainment Weekly
 
“Warm, entertaining and thoughtful . . . a glorious celebration of music.” — Minneapolis Star-Tribune
 
“For its darkness and its glee, I loved this novel.” — Robin Sloan, author of Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore

Fifteen years ago, a murder-suicide in room 712 rocked the grand old Bellweather Hotel and the young bridesmaid who witnessed it, Minnie Graves. Now hundreds of high school musicians have gathered in the hotel’s cavernous halls for the annual Statewide festival; Minnie has returned to face her demons; and a colossal snowstorm is threatening to trap them all in the hotel. When a young prodigy goes missing from infamous room 712, the search for her entwines an eccentric cast of conductors and caretakers, failures and stars, teenagers on the verge and adults trapped in memories. A genre-bending page-turner, full of knowing nods to pop culture classics from The Shining to Agatha Christie to Glee, Bellweather Rhapsody is a wholly winning new novel from a writer to watch.

"Synopsis" by , A New York Times Best Book of the Year

One of Granta's Best Young American Novelists

Selected for the New Yorker's 20 Under 40

Nominated for the Orange Prize

Thirteen-year-old Ava Bigtree has lived her entire life at Swamplandia!, her family’s island home and gator-wrestling theme park in the Florida Everglades. But when illness fells Ava’s mother, the park’s indomitable headliner, the family is plunged into chaos; her father withdraws, her sister falls in love with a spooky character known as the Dredgeman, and her brilliant big brother, Kiwi, defects to a rival park called The World of Darkness. As Ava sets out on a mission through the magical swamps to save them all, we are drawn into a lush and bravely imagined debut that takes us to the shimmering edge of reality.

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