Swamplandia!
Karen Russell

Book cover image

Narrated By: Ariel Sitrick, David Ackroyd

Duration: 13 hours and 7 minutes

What to expect

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.

Genre

Magical realism, Fantasy, Myths & fairy tales, Modern & contemporary fiction

Listen to a sample

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

Sunday Times

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

The Times

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

Monocle

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

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