August 4, 2023

(c) Michael Lionstar 2013

Pulitzer finalist, Macarthur Fellowship Recipient, and author of SWAMPLANDIA! and VAMPIRES IN THE LEMON GROVE Karen Russell’s THE ANTIDOTE  opens on Black Sunday, as a historic dust storm ravages the fictional town of Uz, Nebraska. But Uz is already collapsing–not just under the weight of the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl drought, but beneath its own violent history. The novel follows a “Prairie Witch,” whose body serves as a bank vault for peoples’ memories and secrets; a Polish wheat farmer who learns how quickly a hoarded blessing can become a curse; his orphan niece, a basketball star and witch’s apprentice in furious flight from her grief; a voluble scarecrow; and a New Deal photographer whose time-traveling camera threatens to reveal both the town’s secrets and its fate.

The novel is above all a reckoning with a nation’s forgetting—enacting the settler amnesia and willful omissions passed down from generation to generation, and unearthing not only horrors but shimmering possibilities. This gripping Dust Bowl epic echoes with urgent warnings for our own climate emergency, challenging readers with a vision of what might have been—and what still could be.