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.


  • 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

About the author

Karen Russell

Karen Russell is the bestselling author of two novels and several books of short stories. The winner of a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant, she was also named one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists in 2007 and New Yorker’s 20 under 40. Her first novel Swamplandia! was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize and the Dublin Literary Award and longlisted for the Women's Fiction Prize; her collection St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves was longlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Her new novel The Antidote will be published in 2025.
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