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    What I feel for you is more than love. It's stronger, peninsular. You connect me to the Mainland. You are my leg of land over dark water.

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    • Emerald Currie

      It's hard to believe that the quirky Swamplandia! is Karen Russell's debut novel. The story surprised me at every turn. Not to sound trite, but for 300 pages I cried, I laughed and I was amazed. —Lisa M.

    • Marisa

      Swamplandia!: Karen Russell (a critically acclaimed pulitzer finalist by a young woman about an alligator amusement park in our very own FL)

    • Nicole Schwecke

      No winner was selected for 2012, but Swamplandia! by Karen Russell was one of the three nominees

    • Elisabeth McCracken

      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 ch...

    • Sherine Sublette

      January, 2012 This book is very "literary" if you follow me. It's not for everyone, or necessarily the reader who wants to be entertained without underpinning philosophical themes in that sense. It topped many of the lists of 2011's best fiction, and so it got my attention. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to be a writer, and to anyone who likes looking at overarching themes of family and childhood. Its setting of the southern coast of Florida makes it worthy almost in itself. Karen Russell sure is talented for being so young.

    • Janine Yesdresyski

      Swamplandia! Great novel of a family falling apart and coming back together.

    • Amanda Gable

      Heard this one is worth reading...

    • Alexandra Fleming

      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 own words, 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 debut novel 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, and Swamplandia!, 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 animated by 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 inventive work from a vibrant new voice in fiction.

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    Great reviews.

    to do list

    On the stack

    Tied in fiction category for the Pulitzer Prize.

    Read away


    The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender,

    Malamud - said to be a collection of magic realism "at its finest". I'm sold.

    St. Lucys Home for Girls Raised by Wolves (Vintage Contemporaries): Karen Russell:

    A list of dark, weird, and southern gothic books that every fan of HBO’s True Detective should read.

    Goodreads Mover & Shaker July 2012

    God'll Cut You Down - John Safran

    January, 2012 Another great work from the best of 2011 lists with deeply developed literary themes. As an admittedly lifelong non-athlete, baseball is the only sport I even enjoy following or watching. But one doesn't have to like or even know much about the game to enjoy this book about interwoven lives and relationships at a small liberal arts college and its baseball team. I loved it. It made me cry.

    Recommended by Christian

    Captivating. Haven't read, but I hear it's so good!

    Popular books for book club. #books #reading #booklist #to read

    March- Elana's pick

    recommended by Teresa

    recommended by Jan