For its 13th year, the Spokane Is Reading program is taking readers to an island off the southwest coast of Florida, where a family with a gator-wrestling theme park entertains a dwindling number of tourists and tries not to fall apart. The book is Swamplandia!, and author Karen Russell will come to speak at two free events on Oct. 16.
The program — organized by Spokane County Library District, Spokane Public Library and Auntie’s Bookstore — is kind of like a community-wide book club, with a new book selected each year. Last year’s selection was Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple.
Russell was awarded a coveted MacArthur “Genius Grant” in 2013 for her writing, and has also published two collections of short stories, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves and Vampires in the Lemon Grove. Swamplandia!, her first novel, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2011, a strange year when no winner was selected. (The other two finalists were Train Dreams by Denis Johnson and The Pale King by David Foster Wallace.)
Russell is scheduled to speak here on Oct. 16 at 1 pm at the Spokane Valley Event Center, and later at 7 pm at the Bing Crosby Theater.