In this episode of the “Literary Arts: The Archive Project,” Richard Russo, Karen Russell, and Kevin Young discuss inequality and its influence on their work. In “Everybody’s Fool,” Richard Russo revisits the town of North Bath, NY and its colorful citizens a decade after the events of “Nobody’s Fool.” Karen Russell takes us to the edge of reality with “Swamplandia!,” the story of an alligator wrestling family, the Bigtrees, and their struggle to maintain their way of life in the Florida Everglades. Kevin Young’s “Blue Laws” takes us on a tour through the poet’s prolific career and blurs the already thin line between the personal and the political. This panel is moderated by literary critic John Freeman.
Richard Russo is the author of eight novels, two collections of stories, and “Elsewhere,” a memoir. In 2002 he received the Pulitzer Prize for “Empire Falls,” which, like his earlier novel “Nobody’s Fool,” was adapted for the screen in a multiple-award-winning HBO miniseries. In 2016 he published “Everybody’s Fool,” a sequel to his 1993 book “Nobody’s Fool.”
Karen Russell, a native of Miami, won the 2012 National Magazine Award for fiction, and her first novel, “Swamplandia!,” was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2011. She is a graduate of the Columbia MFA program, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow, and a MacArthur “Genius” grant recipient. Russell is also the author of “St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves,” “Vampires in the Lemon Grove: Stories, and Sleep Donation: A Novella.” She lives in Portland.
Kevin Young is the author of eleven books of poetry, prose, and nonfiction including “Blue Laws: Selected & Uncollected Poems 1995-2015,” longlisted for the National Book Award; “Jelly Roll: a blues,” a finalist for both the National Book Award and the “Los Angeles Times” Book Prize; and “The Grey Album: On the Blackness of Blackness,” winner of the PEN Open Book Award and finalist for the 2013 National Book Critics Circle Award for criticism. He is the editor of eight other collections, most recently “The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton, 1965-2010.” He is currently the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and will be serving as Poetry Editor of the “New Yorker” starting in November 2017.