Karen Russell's 'Swamplandia' Explores Florida Everglades

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Karen Russell's debut novel was picked as one of the best of 2011 by both the New York Times and Entertainment Weekly. Plaudits are nothing new for Russell--her short story "Saint Lucy's Home For Girls Raised By Wolves" was named one of the best of 2006 and she was one of The New Yorker's "20 under 40" writers featured last summer.

"Swamplandia!" centers around the Bigtree family, who runs an alligator theme park in Florida's Everglades. Their way of life begins to crumble after their mother and star attraction dies of cancer and a new theme park called "The World of Darkness" moves in nearby.

Russell, who grew up in Florida, told Here & Now's Robin Young that her state is being constantly encroached upon, both by invasive species like the Melaleuca tree, and by developers. She also explained why she loved Florida.

"It feels like a portal out of a fairy tale, there are mangrove channels, dead end rivers and dead falls, and it really does feel like a landscape out of an alien book," she said.

This segment originally aired in March.


  • Karen Russell, author

This segment aired on December 29, 2011.


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