Fin: ‘Swamplandia!’


by Karen Russell

  • Date finished: Aug. 25, 2012
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Year: 2011
  • Project: n/a
  • Reading List: Summer 2012
  • Quick thoughts upon finishing: I didn’t think to write an “Up Next” post on Swamplandia! because nearly an hour after finishing Lolita, I was already four chapters deep into Karen Russell’s debut novel and there was no going back. I’d like to first say that I’m psyched I made myself buy Swamplandia! (despite my initial disappointment I couldn’t buy something else), because I finally feel like I’m “hip” with what’s hot in the literary world RIGHT NOW. Ok, sure I’m not reading Gone Girl or whatever book the housewives are reading this summer. But Swamplandia! is still really new, especially for a reader like me who likes to troll the backlists. I even remember seeing my publishing friends raving about it on Twitter a few weeks ago!
  • Now back to the book. Swamplandia! received a lot of praise for a debut novel and I have to say it was well deserved. The novel is … different, that’s for sure. Different kind of cast, different places and the plot sure does leave you guessing (pardon the cliche). Unlike some books I’ve read, I’m not sure I exactly want to live in the world of Swamplandia! but it was definitely a fun place to visit.
  • That being said, Swamplandia! is about family. It’s about the juxtaposition of mysticism and faith, rubbing up against the cool, hard grain of reality. It’s figuring out where your strength comes from. It’s about growing up. It’s about a lot of things — a lot of good things that make good novels. While I’m not going to say Swamplandia! changed my life, it’s definitely one to put your To Read list.
  • Awards: The New York Times named Swamplandia! as one of its Ten Best Books of 2011, was on the longlist for the 2011 Orange Prize and a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. It was also one of three nominees for the Andrew Carnagie Medal for Excellence in Fiction for 2012, presented by the American Library Association.

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