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
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 ownwords, 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 debutnovel 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, andSwamplandia , 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 animatedby 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 inventivework from a vibrant new voice in fiction.
From the Hardcover edition.
A triumphant debut novel and follow-up to Karen Russell’s universally acclaimed short story collection St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves.
The Bigtree alligator wrestling dynasty is in decline—think Buddenbrooks set in the Florida Everglades—and Swamplandia!, their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, is swiftly being encroached upon by a sophisticated competitor known as the World of Darkness. Ava, a resourceful but terrified twelve, must manage seventy gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief. Her mother, Swamp landia!’s legendary headliner, has just died; her sister is having an affair with a ghost called the Dredgeman; her brother has secretly defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their sinking family afloat; and her father, Chief Bigtree, is AWOL. To save her family, Ava must journey on her own to a perilous part of the swamp called the Underworld, a harrowing odyssey from which she emerges a true heroine.
Selected as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists, Karen Russell is an irrepressible new voice in contemporary fiction.
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.