Book Marks: First book you remember loving?
Karen Russell: The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle
BM: Favorite re-read?
KR: Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
BM: What book do you think your book is most in conversation with?
KR: I’m not sure I can pin down a single book, although Macondo’s insomnia plague imprinted deeply upon me. I also think it shares dream DNA with the twilight worlds of Stephen King, Kelly Link, George Saunders, Octavia Butler. Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. Lewis Hyde’s The Gift.
And I read this more recently, but I think Sleep Donation would have a lot to talk about with Shoshanna Zuboff’s The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.
BM: A book that blew your mind?
BM: What book from the past year would you like to give a shout-out to?
KR: I have to stan for my brother Kent Russell’s outrageously entertaining, heartbreaking, and frighteningly timely Florida book, In the Land of Good Living: A Journey to the Heart of Florida. Joe Biden’s team would be wise to study it in advance of the election.
BM: A book that actually made you laugh out loud?
KR: I laughed so hard reading Kent’s book I developed a tiny six-pack. Elwin Cotman’s Dance on Saturday, in addition to being wildly inventive, is also so goddamn funny.
Karen Russell won the 2012 and the 2018 National Magazine Award for fiction, and her first novel, Swamplandia!, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She is also the author of the novella, Sleep Donation, the story collections, Orange World and St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. She has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, the “5 under 35” prize from the National Book Foundation, the NYPL Young Lions Award, the Bard Fiction Prize, and is a former fellow of the Cullman Center and the American Academy in Berlin. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and children.