Karen Russell (b. 1981), a native of Miami, has been featured in both The New Yorker's debut fiction issue and New York magazine's list of twenty-five people to watch under the age of twenty-six. She is a graduate of the Columbia MFA program and is the 2005 recipient of the Transatlantic Review/Henfield Foundation Award; her fiction has recently appeared in Conjunctions, Granta, Zoetrope, Oxford American, and The New Yorker.
Her first book of short stories, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves was published in September 2006, for which she was named a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" young writer honoree at a November 2009 ceremony. Swamplandia (Feb 2011) is her first novel.
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In two separate interviews Karen Russell talks about her first book of short stories, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, and her first novel, Swamplandia!
A Conversation with
Karen Russell about her first novel, Swamplandia!
Swamplandia! and your story collection, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, are both set in a sort of enchanted, Lewis Carroll-like version of North America. What draws you to these worlds and how do you create them?
Well, I think I owe a big debt to Lewis Carroll himself, probably, and other folks who I read as a kid like Ray Bradbury and Peter S. Beagle and Stephen King and Madeleine L'Engle. My favorite books were always the ones where I felt like an alternate world had been created in some star cradle by the author and, in an amazing feat of compression, shrunken down into a 200-page book (or, in the case of Ray Bradbury, a three page story about a country uncle with green wings). I think I wanted to create strange but familiar snow-globe worlds almost as soon as I started reading these books
I also think I'm drawn to imaginary places because it's an architecture that any reading consciousness can enter - as a kid I ...
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