I give my great thanks to Max u for the provision of an Amazon Gift Card with which I acquired this book.
There are three great set in Florida Novels, all written by authors with deep ties to Florida, one was born there, two died in the state. All are by women.
The first was Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston, 1937, set in rural south Florida, in the Lake Okechobee region, focusing on African-Americans.
The second is The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, 1938, focusing on poor white rural people in North Florida, called at the time “Florida Crackers”.
Seventy three years will pass, a World War will be fought, millions will move to Florida, Disney World will open, the great influx of Cubans and others from Latin America will make it a nearly bilingual state until the next Great Florida novel is published, Swamplandia by Karen Russell, in 2011. Like the first two great Florida novels, Swamplandia is set among marginalised people on the fringes of mainstream Florida, among people living in the Everglades, in the Ten Thousand Island Area In Collier County Florida. Collier County is one of the most affluent counties in America.
I really like Swamplandia. I was expecting a lot based on the short stories in Vampires in the Lemon Grove and it exceeded my expectations. Swamplandia is a once prosperous tourist attraction, an alligator farm and wrestling show. Pure tack to the rich in Naples. It is a brilliant celebration of a lost to most segment of Florida’s past. I learned a good bit about the development of the Everglades, (it is set maybe in 1950), the ecological balance of the swamps. The main characters are all part of the Bigtree family. The father is an Indian, the mother white. Russell makes wonderful use of Florida Indian history explaining how the original Aboriginal occupants of Florida were nearly 100 percent wiped out by European diseases. We learn of the origins of the non -Florida origins of the Seminoles.
Swamplandia is very much a novel about a family struggling to keep going after the mother, who was the star of the wrestling show, dies. It is also a voyage into the underworld.
““Hopes were wallflowers. Hopes hugged the perimeter of a dance floor in your brain, tugging at their party lace, all perfume and hems and doomed expectation. They fanned their dance cards, these guests that pressed against the walls of your heart.”
― Karen Russell, Swamplandia!
There is so much to love in Swamplandia, much more than I have touched upon.
Karen Russell (born July 10, 1981) is an American novelist and short story writer. Her debut novel, Swamplandia!, was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She was also the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation "Genius Grant" in 2013. From publisher.