Karen Russell’s comedic genius and mesmerising talent for creating outlandish predicaments that uncannily mirror our inner lives are on display in these exuberant, unforgettable stories. In ‘The Bad Graft’, a couple on a road trip stop in Joshua Tree National Park, where the spirit of a giant tree accidentally infects the young woman, their fates becoming permanently entangled. In ‘The Prospectors’ two opportunistic young women fleeing the Depression strike out for new territory, but find themselves fighting for their lives. In the brilliant and hilarious title story a new mother desperate to ensure her baby’s safety strikes a diabolical deal – as long as the devil protects her baby, she’ll do anything.
Stories of survival, love and of surreal and magnificent transformation – even in their darkness, these stories give us an escape. Just as many of the characters make a leap – whether to a different world or a different state – we go along for the ride as Russell takes us to strange and exhilarating new heights. This is haunting and beautiful work from one of America’s most gifted writers.
Karen Russell has been featured in the New Yorker’s debut fiction issue, was chosen as one of Granta’s Best Young American Novelists in 2007, and was named one of New Yorker magazine’s 20 Under 40. Her first collection of short stories, St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, was longlisted for the Guardian first book award. Her novel, Swamplandia!, was longlisted for the 2011 Orange Prize and shortlisted for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize. Altogether Karen has now won 2 National Magazine awards and had 4 of her stories published in Best American Short Stories. Both Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove have been US bestsellers. And in 2013 Karen won a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Grant. She lives in Portland, Oregon.
Read: Orange World, The New Yorker
Review: Voices Against the Wall: The Hilarious Terror of Karen Russell’s Orange World and Other Stories, Ryan Smernoff, LA Review of Books
Prompt: Take an intense emotion you’ve experienced and write from the perspective of the emotion as if it were a character. Hold on to the emotion but distance yourself.