Karen Russell’s ‘Swamplandia’ to Become HBO Series


Karen Russell writes characters who don’t jump so much as vault off the page — a Minotaur dad attempting to tow his family to the Western Territories, kids at a summer camp for disordered sleepers, an awkward girl who gets stuck in a giant shell. So, while we’re surprised to hear that HBO is adapting her recent novel, Swamplandia!, for a half-hour comedy series, we’re also incredibly excited to see her singular characters on the small screen. The book follows a tween alligator wrestler who lives at the titular swamp-themed tourist attraction with her big-talking father, an older sister who believes she can conjure the dead, and a practical, egghead older brother, after the untimely death of her mother. Although there’s plenty of material for oddball adventures in the novel, there’s also a clear, linear, and often dark plot — which makes us wonder what Swamplandia! will look like as a sitcom.

The series will be helmed by producer Scott Rudin — who, as GalleyCat points out, has several literary adaptations in the works for HBO, including Noah Baumbach’s take on Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections and a comedy based on Mary Karr’s memoirs. While Russell will consult on the Swamplandia! show, Rudin is still seeking a writer.