Karen Russell: Sleep Donation

"Fiction can restore the real horror of our economic systems and expose our complicity."

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Have you had trouble sleeping lately? Did you take a pill for it? What if sleeping pills no longer worked and your insomnia was so acute it could kill you? In Sleep Donation, Karen Russell creates a scenario where the cure for insomnia mirrors the corporate greed we’ve come to expect from big pharma and it’s a total nightmare.  From sleep transfusions and corrupt toilet barons to a virulent nightmare so terrifying people choose to die rather than risk having it --  this novella just might keep you up at night.

Karen Russell won the 2012 and the 2018 National Magazine Award for fiction, and her first novel, Swamplandia! (2011), was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. She has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, the “5 under 35” prize from the National Book Foundation, the NYPL Young Lions Award, the Bard Fiction Prize, and is a former fellow of the Cullman Center and the American Academy in Berlin. She currently holds the Endowed Chair at Texas State University’s MFA program, and lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and son.

About the Host

Amanda Stern is Bookable’s host. Founder of the popular literary event series Happy Ending at Joe’s Pub in New York City, Stern is also a writer. Happy Ending ran for more than a decade and was selected as New York’s best book-related series by New York Magazine, The Village Voice and NY Press. The New York Times Magazine singled out Happy Ending as a force keeping “downtown New York alive.”


This episode was produced by Andrew Dunn and Amanda Stern. It was edited, mixed and sound-designed by Andrew Dunn who also created Bookable's chill vibe.  Our host is Amanda Stern. Beau Friedlander is Bookable's executive producer and editor in chief of Loud Tree Media.


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