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From the author of the New York Times best seller Swamplandia!—a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize—a magical new collection of stories that showcases Karen Russell’s gifts at their inimitable best.
A dejected teenager discovers that the universe is communicating with him through talismanic objects left behind in a seagull’s nest. A community of girls held captive in a silk factory slowly transmute into human silkworms, spinning delicate threads from their own bellies, and escape by seizing the means of production for their own revolutionary ends. A massage therapist discovers she has the power to heal by manipulating the tattoos on a war veteran’s lower torso. When a group of boys stumble upon a mutilated scarecrow bearing an uncanny resemblance to the missing classmate they used to torment, an ordinary tale of high school bullying becomes a sinister fantasy of guilt and atonement. In a family’s disastrous quest for land in the American West, the monster is the human hunger for acquisition, and the victim is all we hold dear. And in the collection’s marvelous title story—an unforgettable parable of addiction and appetite, mortal terror and mortal love—two vampires in a sun-drenched lemon grove try helplessly to slake their thirst for blood.
Karen Russell is one of today’s most celebrated and vital writers—honored in The New Yorker’s list of the twenty best writers under the age of forty, Granta’s Best of Young American Novelists, and the National Book Foundation’s five best writers under the age of thirty-five. Her wondrous new work displays a young writer of superlative originality and invention coming into the full range and scale of her powers.
“Vampires in the Lemon Grove shows Ms. Russell more in control of her craft than ever. . . . Ms. Russell deftly combines elements of the weird and supernatural with acute psychological realism; elements of the gothic with dry, contemporary humor. From apparent influences as disparate as George Saunders, Saki, Stephen King, Carson McCullers and Joy Williams, she has fashioned a quirky, textured voice that is thoroughly her own: lyrical and funny, fantastical and meditative. . . . Underscores her fecund and constantly surprising storytelling gifts. . . . In these tales Ms. Russell combines careful research with minutely imagined details and a wonderfully vital sleight of hand to create narratives that possess both the resonance of myth and the immediacy of something new.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Hilarious, exquisite, first-rate. . . . It’s hard not to reflect on the origins of this wildly talented young writer’s ideas. . . . A grim, stupendous magic is at work in these stories. . . . Her work has a velocity and trajectory that is little less than dazzling and a tough, enveloping, exhilarating voice that cannot be equaled.” —Joy Williams, The New York Times Book Review
“One of the most innovative, inspired short-story collections in the past decade. . . . Vampires in the Lemon Grove is flawless and magnificent, and there’s absolutely no living author quite like Karen Russell.” —Michael Schaub, NPR
“Astonishing…Vampires in the Lemon Grove stands out as Russell’s best book . . . with prose so alive it practically backflips off the page. . . . One of Russell’s seemingly endless gifts as a writer is that her invented worlds shed new light on the one in which we live.” —Molly Antopol, San Francisco Chronicle
“Beautiful tales. . . . Vampires in the Lemon Grove should cement Russell’s reputation as one of the most remarkable fantasists writing today.” —Elizabeth Hand, Washington Post
“Russell is so grand a writer—so otherworldly, yet emotionally devastating; so daffy and daring—that she doesn’t need an imprimatur to stake her claim to literary genius. . . . One of the great American writers of our young century.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR
“Each story is more inventive than the last, juxtaposing mundane human experiences and profound questions about consciousness, love, and mortality, with a hint of the supernatural. . . . As Russell’s imagination soars, so does our joy in reading this collection.” —Oprah.com
“Karen Russell’s imagination is one again on full, Technicolor, mind-bending display. . . . If Vampires in the Lemon Grove is an indicator of the future, Russell’s stories will be seizing our imaginations—and nibbling at the edges of our nightmares—for years to come.” —Amy Driscoll, Miami Herald
“A force to behold. . . . Russell establishes herself as a writer to track and to treasure.” —Madeleine Blais, Chicago Tribune
“Wildly inventive . . . wondrously strange and moving.” —Reader’s Digest
“Witty, and wise, and brimming with vitality. . . . In Russell’s stories, malice strolls with morality, horror tangos with humor, and the spirits of Franz Kafka and Flannery O’Connor meet with unexpected comity. . . . With a voice that could spring from an unleashed demon—or an angel on amphetamines—Russell fills this exuberant collection with life’s radiance and shadows, enhanced by the possibility of redemption.” —Richmond Times-Dispatch
“Karen Russell’s stories defy definition. They are at once warm and sinister, a bubblebath with a shark fin lurking underneath the suds. . . . Fiction that expands the possible, gorgeous prose forged in the fires of dark beauty and wistful longing.” —The Millions
“Like Russell’s previous work, Vampires in the Lemon Grove presents a writer with a seemingly infinite imagination and a tremendous appreciation for the possibilities of language, particularly its ability to extract beauty from the darkest places and situations…Her originality is relentless.” —SouthFlorida.com
“An eight-tale adrenaline-delivery system packed with long-married, problem-beset monsters, abandoned children whose lives are in dire peril, teens with creepy sixth senses, and masseuses with inexplicable healing powers. . . . Darkly inventive, demonically driven narratives set in the author’s inimitable imaginative disturbia.” —Elle
“Consistently arresting…startling…profound…Even more impressive than Russell’s critically acclaimed novel.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Russell doesn’t work small. She’s a world builder, and the stranger the better…Russell’s great gift—along with her antic imagination—is her ability to create whole landscapes and lifetimes of strangeness within the confines of a short story.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“Russell returns to the story form with renewed daring, leading us again into uncharted terrain, though as fantastic as the predicaments she imagines are, the emotions couldn’t be truer to life. . . . Mind-blowing, mythic, macabre, hilarious.” —Booklist (starred review)
“The offbeat lusciousness of [Swamplandia] seems to be repeated in Russell’s new story collection. . . . Don’t miss.” —Library Journal
“Karen Russell casts another spell with her otherworldly collection of stories…Is she a Southern Gothicist? A parabolist? A moralist? Do her stories expand upon old histories, or create new, fantastical explanations for them? But the stories, without ever confining themselves to one genre or tradition, speak for themselves.” —Bullett Magazine