Karen Russell Talks Science Fiction & Fantasy Prejudice On NPR


Photo of Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and New Yorker essayist.

Many SF&F authors get their long-time readers when those readers are teens.

Therefore, it is not surprising that some of those teens grow up to become amazing writers in their own right, publishing their own books and creating their own worlds to share with us.

Karen Russell is one of them. She is the amazingly-talented author of Swamplandia!, which was a finalist for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize For Fiction. Her stories have been featured in The Best American Short Stories, em>Conjunctions, Granta, The New Yorker, Oxford American, and Zoetrope. She was also named a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” young writer honoree for her first book of short stories, St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. In short, she is a literary powerhouse of words.

But before she was any of that, she was a teen girl reading Terry Brooks, author of The Sword of Shannara and sequels. And like many of us, she endured criticism from adults for her reading choices. In this NPR/New Yorker piece embedded below, Russell uses her love of Terry Brooks’s works to highlight the prejudice fantasy readers used to endure. A great essay about loving what you are reading–and how book culture has evolved.

Take a listen below! It is worth your six minutes:

As a long-time ardent reader of Brooks’s work, I can relate to what Russell speaks about. I had similar moments while in middle school and high school. Thankfully never from family members but from teachers and other students. But as Brooks is fond of saying, “J.K. Rowling made the world safe for fantasy authors and readers.” He’s not wrong.

Hope you never had to endure it! But I bet some of you did.

Back to reading fantasy!