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From the author of the New York Times bestseller Swamplandia!, and finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, an imaginative and haunting novella about an insomnia epidemic set in the near future.
A crisis has swept America. Hundreds of thousands have lost the ability to sleep. Enter the Slumber Corps, an organization that urges healthy dreamers to donate sleep to an insomniac. Under the wealthy and enigmatic Storch brothers the Corps’ reach has grown, with outposts in every major US city. Trish Edgewater, whose sister Dori was one of the first victims of the lethal insomnia, has spent the past seven years recruiting for the Corps. But Trish’s faith in the organization and in her own motives begins to falter when she is confronted by “Baby A,” the first universal sleep donor, and the mysterious “Donor Y.”
Sleep Donation explores a world facing the end of sleep as we know it, where “Night Worlds” offer black market remedies to the desperate and sleep deprived, and where even the act of making a gift is not as simple as it appears.
Audiobook read by Greta Gerwig.
Visit sleepdonation.com, brought to you by Karen Russell and the Slumber Corps. Read breaking news stories, check out the nightmare index, the sleep purity questionnaire, or make a sleep donation.
“Ms. Russell creates a new illness. She describes its hold over a futuristic America with "Twilight Zone"-like inventiveness and the energy and brio of natural fantasist with a proclivity for blending the real and the surreal, the psychological and the sci-fi . . . Ms. Russell writes with such assurance and speed that she puts the reader under a spell for the duration of her story. She creates a fully imagined world with its own rituals and rules, and deftly satirizes the media and governmental responses to the plague of sleeplessness . . . it's another testament to her fertile powers of invention.” —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
“Her new novella shows her MacArthur grant was no fluke . . . It is signature Russell: a fanciful, droll, elaborately thought-through allegory with a dark center . . . You will be reading it for the pleasure of Russell's language, which is acrid, luminous, and deft, and for the way she confuses the ordinary and the marvelous . . . She is a special kind of magical realist in that she is wholly committed to both registers. When she describes a woman before the onset of the deadly insomnia—'Her hazel eyes were shining and calm, tenanted by a sane woman, tethered to her memories; her face was happy and plump, irrigated by sleep'—you ricochet between recognition and surprise. Recognition because, as a writer, Russell takes nothing for granted. She will chase down every flicker of ordinary experience and return with descriptions of uncanny aptness . . . Her sentences both resonate with familiarity and startle with beauty . . . Russell has diagnosed something elemental about the way we grasp for things we may or may not want.” —Slate
“The combination of Russell's dazzling imagination and virtuosic prose adds up to pleasurable sensory overload. WHY E-ONLY It's not surprising that the Pulitzer finalist who gave us the stirring, deeply weird novel Swamplandia! and two cracklingly original short-story collections would make the most of an unconventional format. An e-single that's much longer than a typical short story but shorter than a full-fledged novel allows Russell to hone in on Sleep Donation's premise while exploring all of its possibilities. A-” —Entertainment Weekly
“Sleep Donation is a terrific way to start an imprint, a starkly dystopian novella reminiscent of George Saunders in its bleak humor, the directness of its prose. Narrated by Trish Edgewater—whose sister Dori was one of the first casualties of the insomnia epidemic—it is at once a satire of aid organizations and a brittle examination of exploitation and its discontents.” —David Ulin, The Los Angeles Times
“Russell specializes in creating fantastical worlds that hum with recognizable rhythms. She excels at marrying the commonplace with the extraordinary.” —Miami Herald