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Orange World and Other Stories

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,759 ratings  ·  484 reviews
From the Pulitzer Finalist and universally beloved author of the New York Times best sellers Swamplandia! and Vampires in the Lemon Grove, a stunning new collection of short fiction that showcases Karen Russell's extraordinary, irresistible gifts of language and imagination.

Karen Russell's comedic genius and mesmerizing talent for creating outlandish predicaments that
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 14th 2019 by Random House Large Print Publishing
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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May 03, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

i've already read and reviewed the first two stories in this collection (The Prospectors and The Bad Graft) during 2017's december advent calendar, so i'm ahead of the game!

and you, too, can be ahead of the game, as four of the eight stories in this collection previously appeared in the new yorker. here are your links: orange world, bog girl, the prospectors, and the bad graft.

i'm not sure if the other stories can be found elsewhere, but don't go looking for them online - they
Diane S ☔
May 29, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lor-2019
What Russell has accomplished with these stories is hard to describe, but I'll try. She takes what often starts off as a relatively normal situation, and then pulls the stories into a surreal world. One never knows when, how or even why it happens but it does. I'm always in awe of authors who have this kind of imagination, and write so well that the reader accepts these situations as they are. Fiendish!

This is a strong work. Eight stories, all but one I liked, the first, The Prospector my
Jun 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: horror, short-fiction
“O.K.,” Yvette says, breathing loudly through her nose. “That’s O.K. Weaning is a process.”

A group of lactating mothers work together to defeat a very hungry demon. Sounds bizarre, I know, but I found it to be quite a mesmerizing read.

Bet the La Leche League never had to deal with this situation.

Read it for yourself -
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is my second favorite Karen Russell (I will always hold St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves as one of my favorite books.) Top stories include The Bad Graft, Bog Girl: A Romance, and The Gondoliers. All of these have some kind of conflict between humans and the natural world, from infiltrating cacti to corpses to a Florida covered in toxic water.

Here is a link to The Bad Graft in the New Yorker if you want to try it out.

At ALA Midwinter, the publisher literally gave the last galley of
Feb 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
I have no idea how Russell comes up with these mystical and bizarre stories, but I'm glad that she does. "The Bad Graft" is the story of a Joshua Tree's spirit invading a woman's body that I can't stop thinking about; then there's "The Gondoliers", with gorgeous description of the eerily-real future of Florida, somewhat abandoned after an environmental catastrophe; and the short but bittersweet life of a dog in "Madame Bovary's Greyhound". This collection is altogether enchanting with a light ...more
Jaclyn Crupi
Jun 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Having new books by Helen Phillips (The Need – read it immediately) and Karen Russell in the same year is almost more excitement than I can handle. Both writers work in the literary surreal/purgatorial/unsettling/horror/weird space and I very much love it. These stories are truly brilliant and Russell is a master storyteller (but we knew that already).
Bridgit Morgan
May 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019
This was a fascinating collection of short stories! They were all great, but The Tornado Auction was definitely my favorite: that one will stick with me for a long time.
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I remember when Swamplandia! came out, and I obsessively recommended and described it to people. (I must've been such a charming dinner guest.) As far as I'm concerned, Orange World and Other Stories is the pinnacle of Russell's stylistic and imaginative achievement thus far. Each of her tales is so vivid and slightly askew. With a central fantastic conceit played out in an insistently realistic world (not necessarily our world, mind you, but a realistic one)--often melding contexts with which ...more
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
How does she condense so much narrative into each perfectly calibrated, brightly colored story? The secret must lie in those sentences, oh my GOD, Russell’s prose is a reminder of what it is to read and enjoy a singular voice. I am so in love with this book. It’s her best so far, and that’s saying a LOT.
Jan 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Take a look through any reviews for Karen Russell and you'll find so many people wondering how the heck she comes up with these things.

Why you may not like it: Russell's stories always start off normal enough and take a dive into the uncanny. A lot of her stories feel strange for the sake of being strange. I don't often find that I can find deeper meanings or reasons, so if a bunch of short stories about weird things doesn't sound like a good time, turn away.

Why I really liked this: The
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a fantasy/supernatural/magic realism short story about a new mother and her fears. It can be nominated for this year Hugo.

This is a story of a woman, who while not exactly young is the first time mother. She is afraid to lose her child and has a deal with a devil to protect the child. She is not the only one. After the birth, the devil demand a daily breast-feeding, exhausting the mother.

It can be seen as an allusion of post-partum depression or more general, a fear that anything can
May 26, 2019 rated it liked it
I will say that Karen Russell’s imagination is. Fertile and complex place. Her short stories are incredibly varied and always unexpected. Unfortunately, I just didn’t engage with most of these. I often leave her work thinking I should like it, but alas ...
Jul 02, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting enough little tale but really suffers for being too little. Well written but ultimately goes nowhere - or jumps off before the final destination. This would make a decent book though!

It's free; follow the link on the page...
Bill Hsu
Sep 06, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I liked "The Tornado Auction" and the title story, didn't care much for the rest. I thought her two earlier collections were more interesting, with more charm and magic.
Audra (ouija.doodle.reads)
I’m not sure exactly what is going on in Karen Russell’s brain, but if I could get a little of that in my morning coffee I’m pretty sure the world would paint itself over in ultraviolet. She is on another wavelength entirely and it is a strange, brilliant, and wonderful place.

Russell is already known for her short stories, Orange World being her third collection and having had work appear in everything from The New Yorker to Zoetrope to The Best American Short Stories.

The eight stories in this
Jason Furman
A friend of mine ruined Karen Russell for me by telling me that she liked stories where the edges bend, a notion that captured the fantastical as a metaphor that I liked so much in, for example, in everything from Kafka stories to Her Body and Other Parties. The problem with Karen Russell, as she pointed out and immediately resonated with me, is the edges do not bend. It is all quite literal. I love just about all of the literal concepts in Orange World and Other Stories--two women visiting ...more
Aug 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Strange things happen to people in Karen Russell tales. In this, her third short story collection, those things include fortune-seeking young girls who end up dancing with zombies, a teenage boy who falls in love with a red-haired bog corpse, a depressed middle-aged man raising tornadoes, and in the epistolary tale, a new mother who is forced to suckle the devil.

The power of the stories is their seamless weaving of natural and supernatural, blended with everyday humor. Consider when new mother
Jessica Klahr
Apr 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection was almost everything I hoped it would be. Russell’s ability to construct entire worlds and a strong sense of completeness by the end is uncanny. The first three stories were my favorite, as they were prime examples of her doing what she does best: taking what starts out to appear as normal society and adding more and more weirdness almost to the brink of absurdity and then reeling it back a little. “The Bog Girl,” for instance, wouldn’t have worked as well as it did if all the ...more
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Strange, intriguing stories. “The Bad Graft” was amazingly inventive, but when I started reading “The Gondoliers,” a dystopian Florida story, I was sure it was going to be my favorite. It went too long, though, and eventually got too confusing. And then I got to the last story – “Orange World” – which is just amazing. My youngest child is now seventeen, but “Orange World” brought back all the overpowering love, devotion, and fear of early motherhood. Easily the most satisfying of the stories, ...more
Oct 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bailey, and for escapees seeking escapades
Recommended to Alan by: Another karen, and previous work
—"Orange World," p.235

Karen Russell's Orange World isn't what you think it is. Oh, sure, it's good—and that you certainly ought to expect, if you've read any of Russell's previous work—but every story in this collection takes a wry and unexpected turn or two, and brings at least one trenchant observation about human nature. Russell seems to know a lot about human nature, in fact, and these tales—however far they may deviate from consensus
Aug 13, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Elizabeth☮ by: Jenny (Reading Envy)
Shelves: recent-reads
What a fascinating range of stories. I must get her first collection now.
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Karen Russell is DOPE
Jessica Sullivan
Oct 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This collection is so good I can’t even handle it! Surreal, atmospheric, unsettling takes on familiar themes: the uncertainty of new relationships, the realities of climate change, the desperate need to protect the ones we love.

Two women attend a party at a ski lodge full of ghosts. On a trip to the desert, a woman is infected with the spirit of a Joshua tree. A posthumous surgeon in the 1600s is tasked with performing a disturbing ritual to prevent corpses from rising. A new mother agrees to
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
I felt more strongly about some stories than others but they were endlessly creative and beautifully written.
Kim Lockhart
Nov 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
These stories, as different as they are from each other, share a common element. Each story takes one character attribute such as fear, greed, or egoism, and launches the ordinary into the surreal. The result is beautiful prose on a runaway train in the abandoned mine of the imagination. It's quite the ride.
Kait McNamee
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
I love Karen Russell's work, and this book was no exception. While it didn't capture me the same way Vampires in the Lemon Grove did, I still enjoyed the short stories in this collection. It really covers a breadth of topics, from historic ghosts & vampires to demon-fighting moms in Portland. This book is a quick read for fall, mainly because a lot of themes line up with Halloween (but not in a super on-the-nose way).
Jul 21, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm giving the book three stars although I could honestly give it four for the stories that I did like, and for the fact that even the ones I didn't I still admired. But I think my patience for Karen Russell has dwindled since I once declared her my short-story-spirit-animal. Every single Karen Russell story has a similar voice, even if the characters and plots and even the actual quality of the prose are different -- and that grated on me. So, too, did the fact that all eight stories in this ...more
Varsha Ravi (between.bookends)
Another wildly inventive, dark collection of stories from a master storyteller that doesn't fail to impress. Touching on a variety of topics ranging from environmentalism, global warming, post-partum depression, first love, and all that's in between, these stories crackle with a fierce imagination and a touch of the other-worldly.

Russell tinkers with daily, human and mundane realities, presenting them in outlandish and curiously dark settings, that at once seem both familiar and unfamiliar.
Oct 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Holy shit. HOLY FUCKING SHIT, this collection was fun! Seriously, I had pretty low expectations going in, since I've never read any of Russell's work before, but this collection was PHENOMENAL. Before I go into short reviews for each story, let me get the one constant that I loved out of the way: the writing. HOLY SHIT, the writing in this collection was INSANE. Not only was everything well-worded, the descriptions were amazing and the language fit each story's scenario to a tee. Not only was ...more
Sep 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2018
I will read anything that Karen Russell writes. Magical realism + birth and breastfeeding and mothering across the ages = fantastic short story. You can read this one for free at the New Yorker site.

"The breaking is continuous—in the ouroboros of caretaking, guilt and love and fear and love continuously swallow one another."
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The Wild Detectiv...: Karen Russell's Orange World 1 19 Sep 10, 2019 10:11AM  

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Karen Russell graduated from Columbia University's MFA program in 2006. Her stories have been featured in The Best American Short Stories, Conjunctions, Granta, The New Yorker, Oxford American, and Zoetrope. Her first book of short stories, St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, was published in September 2006. In November 2009, she was named a National Book Foundation "5 Under 35" honoree. ...more
“We clacked skeletons -- to call it an embrace would misrepresent the violence of our first collision.” 2 likes
“March 1. DEAR BABY: I like the way you turn in half circles on the mattress, like a senile clock.” 1 likes
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