Karen Russell's new novel Swamplandia! expands on the story of the Bigtree family, first introduced in her acclaimed short-story collection St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. The three Bigtree children were born and raised on Swamplandia!, an island theme park boasting the children's mother as an alligator-wrestling headliner. When their mother dies and a competing theme park threatens Swamplandia!'s survival, the children are left to fend for themselves. Russell's writing is rich with literary allusion and metaphor, yet rooted firmly in Southern Florida's unique culture and ecosystem. ALISON HALLETT Read our interview with Russell.