Karen Russell Swamplandia!

ISBN 13: 9780099555834

Swamplandia!

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9780099555834: Swamplandia!

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.

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Review:

Guest Reviewer: Carl Hiaasen

Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida. He is the author of twelve novels, including the bestselling Star Island, Nature Girl, Skinny Dip, Sick Puppy, and Lucky You, and three bestselling children’s books: Hoot, Flush, and Scat. He also writes a weekly column for The Miami Herald.

This was the first time I’ve read Karen Russell’s work, and I was dazzled. It’s very rare, among the tonnage of manuscripts and galleys that land upon one’s desk, to come across a young novelist so inventive and versatile, yet so thoroughly in control. Also, I’m a sucker for any plot line that features man-eating reptiles.

Swamplandia! is the story of Ava Bigtree, a 12-year-old alligator wrestler who embarks on an improbable journey through the mangrove wilderness of southwest Florida in search of a lost sister. Young Osceola has run off with a ghost-figure named Louis Thanksgiving, and only Ava knows where to look for them, dreading what she might find. Passages of this fine novel call to mind Conrad, Garcia Marquez and even – for those who have kids – Judy Blume. There’s not a forgettable character in the cast, from Ava’s flamboyant father, Chief Bigtree, who runs the family’s failing tourist trap, to the bedraggled and cryptic Bird Man, who guides Ava on her harrowing trip.

Having spent many days in the Ten Thousand Islands, I was enchanted by Russell’s dream-like descriptions of the tangled and serpentine creeks, the funky and exotic flora, the long stare of circling buzzards. Her prose is both shimmering and stark: “A huge hole in the middle of the ceiling opened onto a clear night sky; it looked as if some great predator had peeled the thatched roof back, sniffed once and lost interest.”

Or the way she describes a “cauldron” of moths with “sapphire-tipped wings, a sky-flood of them...They had fixed wings like sharp little bones, these moths, and it was astonishingly sad when you accidentally killed one.”

I can’t recall the last time I came across a character who shines as brightly as Ava, or a first novel that made such a rich and lasting impression.

About the Author:

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 most recently 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.

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099555834

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Book Description Vintage Publishing, United Kingdom, 2012. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book. 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. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099555834

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Book Description Vintage Books, 2012. Book Condition: New. 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. Num Pages: 336 pages. BIC Classification: FA. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 198 x 130 x 21. Weight in Grams: 250. . 2012. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099555834

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Book Description Vintage Books. Book Condition: New. 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. Num Pages: 336 pages. BIC Classification: FA. Category: (G) General (US: Trade). Dimension: 198 x 130 x 21. Weight in Grams: 250. . 2012. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099555834

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