In broad strokes, Swamplandia!, Karen Russell's debut novel, is about a family of career alligator wrestlers struggling to remain a culturally relevant tourist attraction off the coast of Florida. The Bigtrees are a proud family of self-invented Indians—i.e., white folks in Indian headdresses and gator-tooth necklaces—living in isolation, save for the ferries of tourists who visit them to watch the nightly shows of Seth wrestling (the gators are all named Seth for advertising purposes).
Russell is the author of the excellent St. Lucy's School for Girls Raised by Wolves, which is one of the best short story collections to be published in the last five years. She's one of The New Yorker's excellent 20 under 40 fiction writers list (find her interview for that over here). She's reading tonight at Elliott Bay Book Company, and you should definitely go. Russell will be kicking ass in the world of literature for a long time to come, and it's not often you get to get in on the ground floor of an author like this; you'll be able to say you saw her back when she was reading at Elliott Bay and not filling Benaroya Hall. In fact, since this reading is free, and Russell's inevitable future Benaroya Hall readings will cost $65 a ticket, you can't afford not to go tonight.
Everything else that's going on this weekend, including poetry readings, a brunch for smart people, and much more, is in our readings calendar.