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  • Published: 13 March 2012
  • ISBN: 9781446468487
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336


The eagerly anticipated, triumphant debut novel from the prize-winning author of St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Longlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize and shortlisted for the 2013 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

In the Florida Everglades, gator-park Swamplandia! is in trouble. Its star performer, the great beauty and champion alligator-wrestler Hilola Bigtree, has succumbed to cancer, and Ava, her resourceful but terrified 13-year-old daughter, is left in charge with her two siblings. But Ava's sister has embarked on a romantic relationship with a ghost, her brother has defected to a rival theme park, and her father is AWOL. And then a mysterious figure called Bird Man guides Ava into a perilous part of the swamp called the Underworld, promising he can save both her sister and the park...

Swamplandia! was longlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize and shortlisted for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and 2013 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.

  • Published: 13 March 2012
  • ISBN: 9781446468487
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 336

About the author

Karen Russell

Karen Russell, a native of Miami, has been featured in the New Yorker's debut fiction issue, was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists in 2007, and was named one of New Yorker magazine's 20 Under 40. Her first collection of short stories, St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, was longlisted for the Guardian first book award. Her novel, Swamplandia!, was longlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize and shortlisted for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize.

Altogether Karen has now won 2 National Magazine awards and had 4 of her stories published in Best American Short Stories. Both Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove have been US bestsellers. And in 2013 Karen won a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Also by Karen Russell

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Praise for Swamplandia!

[Russell] is certainly very talented...This novel has already received great reviews...and it's easy to see why. Many of her descriptions are quite dazzling


A testament to a truly vivid imagination


Ava's narrative occupies fertile territory half-way between realism and fantasy, innocence and experience... Russell leaves just enough for us to question our reading of events, so that when the scales fall from Ava's eyes we are implicated in her naivety

London Review of Books

Her imagination is undoubtedly of unbounded proportions, and she creates a refreshingly unique community and seductively charms the reader...[Russell] is a refreshing change from the usual.


I was looking forward to Swamplandia! and I wasn't disappointed. I found this novel beautifully written and very witty, yet often extremely sad too


It's a wonderfully extravagant, eccentric story by a brilliant young writer with an amazing imagination

Kate Saunders, The Times

Ms Russell has produces a rich and humid world of spirits and dreams, buzzing mosquitoes and prehistoric reptiles, baby-green cocoplums and marsh rabbits, and musty old tomes about heroes and spells. With Ava she has created a goofy and self-conscious girl who is young enough to hope that all darkness has an answering lightness. Inevitably she must learn otherwise. Swamplandia! is ultimately about the aching beauties of youth - the way life begins with such dumb sweetness, while the lessons that give it meaning lurk around each bend like terrifying gators in a mossy fragrant swamp

The Economist

On one level, this is a sweet, slightly sentimental comin-of-age story; on another, it is a postmodern satire

Scarlett Thomas, Guardian

Russell creats a vivid sense of how reality and fantasy can intertwine in a child's mind and become indistinguishable... What comes through most powerfully in Russell's fertile prose is the humid, mosquito-ridden atmosphere of the Florida swamp and the beguiling strangeness of the creatures - humans included - that make it their home

Killian Fox, Observer

Russell details peculiarities about the alligators (known as Seths) to fascinating effect and skillfully satirizes the greed and fraudulence of entertainment corporations

Sunita Soliar, Times Literary Supplement

Russell is really finding her feet with this one, making good on the promise of her eerie debut

Alastair Mabbott, Herald

Russell's primeval imaginings and gutsy language lurk long in the memory

Emma Hagestadt, Independent

The book certainly abounds in clever and striking images: alligators have "icicle overbites" and Hilola's children "watch her sink into her own face" as she dies of cancer

Anthony Cummins, Metro

The Miami-born writer renders the travails and delights of a...dreamlike world that leaves you intoxicated and slightly dishevelled


The novel is an experiment in how children's minds comprehend loss, and Ava is a compelling guide...Russell's strength is her use of language: each sentence is vividly rendered and the pages are as dense with images as the island is with life

Fiona Wilson, The Times

The novel packs a genuine punch

Jonathan Gibbs, Daily Telegraph

The tale of the two flyaway sisters proves lyrically powerful as it maps the enchanted but dangerous worlds that young minds can conjure to deal with grief

Stephen Amidon, Sunday Times

This novel [is] beautifully written and very witty, yet often extremely sad too


We unanimously loved it - to the point where words like 'genius' and 'masterpiece' were being bandied around. With figurative language enriching every sentence, Russell effortlessly transports the reader

Cambridgeshire Journal

When you start reading a book, it's either sink or swim. With Karen Russell's Swamplandia, set in the alligator-infested Florida Everglades, we dove right in and never came up for air... Russell deftly dips into several story lines. And though she trolls some pretty dark waters (abandonment, consumerism, hungry swamp things), there's magic in discovering how everyone stays afloat

Daily Candy

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