Karen Russell


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The Bigtree alligator wrestling dynasty is in decline — think Buddenbrooks set in the Florida Everglades — and Swamplandia! their island home and gator-wrestling theme park, is swiftly being encroached upon by a sophisticated competitor known as the World of Darkness.

Ava, a resourceful but terrified twelve year old, must manage seventy gators and the vast, inscrutable landscape of her own grief. Her mother, Swamplandia!’s legendary headliner, has just died; her sister is having an affair with a ghost called the Dredgeman; her brother has secretly defected to the World of Darkness in a last-ditch effort to keep their sinking family afloat; and her father, Chief Bigtree, is AWOL. To save her family, Ava must journey on her own to a perilous part of the swamp called the Underworld, a harrowing odyssey from which she emerges a true heroine.
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426 printed pages
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    Nathanielhas quoted4 months ago
    He had the bellicose dignity of a kid who refuses to excuse or even to acknowledge his own extreme ugliness. I admired this trait. It reminded me of the Seths, with their scarred, alien faces and their beautiful oblivion. Like a Seth, Cubby Wallach would let you stare at his face without apologizing for it.

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