The results are in as the legendary The New Yorker magazine showcases 20 young American or US-based writers who are bound for literary acclaim. Among these wonderful young writers selected by The New Yorker is Karen Russell, 28, celebrated author of St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, a collection of unique and wildly bizarre stories about adolescents coming of age.
This New Yorker list of talented young writers is no small thing. In fact, Karen Russell joins the likes of David Foster Wallace, Michael Chabon, Jeffrey Eugenides, Jhumpa Lahiri, and so many others who have been featured over the decade that New Yorker has put together this venerable ’20 under 40′ young writers list.
Who is Author Karen Russell?
Karen Russell has been on the literary radar screen for awhile. A native of Miami and now living in Washington Heights, Karen Russell hit the ground running. Hailing from Columbia’s legendary MFA program, Russell was awarded the 2005 Transatlantic Review/Henfield Foundation Award. Russell’s work has been showcased in The New Yorker’s debut fiction issue and New York magazine’s list of twenty-five people to watch under the age of twenty-six. Her quirky fiction has also been published in several noteworthy literary publications like Conjunctions, Granta, Zoetrope, Oxford American, and The New Yorker. Although relatively new on the literary scene, Russell’s reputation has grown and her writing has matured. As such, it’s not usual to find her listed among the most talented young writers of her generation.
What’s coming up for Karen Russell? Quite a bit. Russell is hard at work penning several new stories and a feature novel about, in her own words, a “whacked-out imaginary town during the Dust Bowl drought.” Surely, this description by Karen Russell herself gives you an idea of Russell’s refreshing originality and off-beat humor.
St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
Ten stories comprise St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. In the literary collection’s title story, a group of girls are improbably raised by wolves only to find themselves subject to reeducation by the good sisters of mercy. That’s right: nuns. In “Ava Wrestles the Alligator,” every line invokes memories of old Florida roadside attractions where the alligators may be the main event, but the people are far more interesting. Other stories featured in St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves loom large for their originality and human landscape. Each story connects well with the others and contributes to the literary largesse of this book.
Each story in this collection is vividly told and certainly memorable. The stories stand out for their originality and color. In an unusual way, the stories reflect the likes of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Flannery O’Connor, two of Russell’s favorite literary influences. An avid reader as a child, Russell has obviously learned her craft from an assortment of literary giants. Indeed, in looking at Russell’s writing you can’t help but notice the trace elements of the same kind of literary genius of those who came before.
St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves was well-received by readers and critics alike, and resulted in Karen Russell’s selection as a 2009 honoree for the National Book Foundation’s ‘5 under 35’ list. It was also named Best Book in 2006 by the Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, and Los Angeles Times. St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves has put Russell on the map as one of the most promising, young writers of her generation today.
Young Writers and Literary Genius
Can anyone say for sure who’s going to be a great writer? Probably not with utmost certainty, but The New Yorker comes close. Indeed, The New Yorker’s list has been important over the years since its inception for showcasing tremendous talent and originality by young American writers and those based in the United States. Writers on this list stand out for both their writing and their confidence. As such, while Russell’s writing may reflect the similarl quirky style of her peers, her own pages soar with the potential and originality that got her listed to begin with. The essential humanity of her characters shock and surprise, so much so that you will find yourself eagerly anticipating her next collection of short stories.
St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves Stories
By Karen Russell (2006)
Where to buy: Random House
20 under 40 List of Young Writers
The New Yorker Magazine (2010)
Nano Wrimo’s Young Writers Program
Barnes and Noble