No, I never have 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 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 H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
"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)
"Quirky, outlandish fiction: To say it's offbeat is to seriously underestimate its weirdness." Kirkus Reviews
"Absolutely irresistible....A suspenseful, deeply haunted book....A marvel." The New York Times
"[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
"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
"The bewitching Swamplandia! is a tremendous achievement." Entertainment Weekly
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 and on The New Yorker’s 20 Under 40 list, and was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists. In 2009, she received the 5 Under 35 award from the National Book Foundation. Three of her short stories have been selected for the Best American Short Stories volumes. She is currently writer-in-residence at Bard College.
Reading Group Guide
The questions, discussion topics, and reading list that follow are intended to enhance your reading group's discussion of Swamplandia!, the eagerly awaited first novel by Karen Russell, acclaimed author of the short story collection St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.