Orange World and Other Stories

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In the title story of Karen Russell’s latest collection, Orange World and Other Stories, a mother finds a community of supportive women as she fights a battle of wills against a succubus to protect her newborn child. The surrealism and pitch-perfect tension of this story echoes throughout the book as Russell presents real people struggling to find peace in worlds gone mad.

Russell’s prior books, including the 2011 Pulitzer Prize-nominated Swamplandia, rattle with the same urgency and wit, but there is a sharpness in Orange World that pierces more deeply than her novels. In “The Gondoliers,” three sisters steer people around obstacles of destruction after a manmade disaster has changed the landscape and ruined lives. There is a fairy tale quality that underscores the terror of certain moments in this and other stories.

Perhaps the most arresting story is “The Bad Graft,” a tale of a love triangle involving two people and a tree at Joshua Tree National Park. Equal parts bizarre and haunting, this story leaves you questioning the meaning of devotion.

The stories in Orange World are not light and fluffy; they require attention and focus and introspection. This may be the greatest gift of Karen Russell’s collection: by making us confront the surreal, she dares us to look closer at ourselves.

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Star Count 5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 288 pages
Publisher Knopf
Publish Date 2019-05-14
ISBN 9780525656135 Buy this Book
Issue June 2019
Category Poetry & Short Stories


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