Sleep Donation (Vintage Contemporaries) (Paperback)

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(Sci-Fi / Fantasy)

Staff Reviews

Sleep Donation is the latest weird and wonderful tale from Karen Russell, the author of Swamplandia! and Orange World.  This story is all about a plague of insomnia that ravages the world, and the people tangled up in the process of ‘sleep donation’ (much like blood donation) who keep those afflicted healthy.  Follow a donation worker, a mother whose baby is the first universal donor, and a whole group of workers who realized they’ve been distributing nightmare infected sleep.  Follow the story through its twisting and turning morality, and decide for yourself what you think is right. 

This is a perfect book for fans of psychological thrillers and traditional mystery fans alike!  I found it fascinating and disturbing in equal measure.
Check out the Audiobook HERE and the Ebook HERE!

— From Nebulous November Staff Picks

A plague causing insomnia spreads throughout America without reason. Infants are used for donating sleep to the afflicted. This nightmarish novel left me feeling immensely unnerved. Karen Russell tackles a brilliantly terrifying concept in the best way possible.  Recent global events have really brought some perspective on the chaos that a sleepless pandemic would cause. For any fans of psychological horror and sci-fi thrillers, Sleep Donation is the book for you!


— From Outlandish October Staff Picks



For the first time in paperback, a haunting novella from the uncannily imaginative author of the national bestsellers Swamplandia! and Orange World: the story of a deadly insomnia epidemic and the lengths one woman will go to to fight it.

Trish Edgewater is the Slumber Corps' top recruiter. On the phone, at a specially organized Sleep Drive, even in a supermarket parking lot: Trish can get even the most reluctant healthy dreamer to donate sleep to an insomniac in crisis--one of hundreds of thousands of people who have totally lost the ability to sleep. Trish cries, she shakes, she shows potential donors a picture of her deceased sister, Dori: one of the first victims of the lethal insomnia plague that has swept the globe.

Run by the wealthy and enigmatic Storch brothers, the Slumber Corps is at the forefront of the fight against this deadly new disease. But when Trish is confronted by "Baby A," the first universal sleep donor, and the mysterious "Donor Y," whose horrific infectious nightmares are threatening to sweep through the precious sleep supply, her faith in the organization and in her own motives begins to falter.

Fully illustrated with dreamy evocations of Russell's singular imagination and featuring a brand-new "Nightmare Appendix," Sleep Donation will keep readers up long into the night and long after haunt their dreams.

About the Author

KAREN RUSSELL has received a MacArthur Fellowship and a Guggenheim Fellowship, the "5 Under 35" prize from the National Book Foundation, the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, and the Berlin Prize from the American Academy. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband, son, and daughter.

Praise For…

"Sleep Donation has a dreamlike beauty while remaining ominous and off-kilter. Parts of it gave me nightmares—and I'm case-hardened." —Stephen King

"[Written] with Twilight Zone-like inventiveness and the energy and brio of a natural fantasist with a proclivity for blending the real and surreal, the psychological and the sci-fi. . . .  [Russell] creates a fully imagined world with its own rituals and rules, and deftly satirizes the media and governmental responses to the plague of sleeplessness. . . . Another testament to her fertile powers of invention." —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times Book Review

"A starkly dystopian novella reminiscent of George Saunders in its bleak humor, the directness of its prose." Los Angeles Times

“Russell wrote Sleep Donation over half a decade ago, yet her nightmarish vision of a nation keelhauled by an insomnia epidemic now registers as shockingly prescient. . . . [Russell has] the finest imagination in contemporary fiction. Sleep Donation is Russell at the height of her formidable powers, at once an eerie evocation of a country whose sins have come home to roost, as well as a deeply personal story of grief and terror.” —Adrienne Westenfeld, Esquire

"Russell's gift is to provide deep immersion in the details, and in Trish's haunting, urgent emotions. . . . Russell offsets . . . expertly induced unease with humour and wry social commentary." The Guardian

"Wonderful. . . . Like George Saunders, Russell writes with a Swiftian sense of satire. . . . Russell has a keen sense of dramatic timing and an even sharper ability to turn an internal state into its own weather system." —The Boston Globe

“A tense but captivating read, eerie in its prescience. . . . [A] philosophical meditation on dreams and consciousness, and a moving examination of love and empathy.” —BuzzFeed

"The combination of Russell's dazzling imagination and virtuosic prose adds up to pleasurable sensory overload." Entertainment Weekly

"Russell handles the extraordinary in a humorous manner. . . . Sleep Donation's magical realism flare makes it not your average dystopia." —GQ 

“A tense but captivating read, eerie in its prescience. . . . [A] philosophical meditation on dreams and consciousness, and a moving examination of love and empathy.” —BuzzFeed

"Russell specializes in creating fantastical worlds that hum with recognizable rhythms. She excels at marrying the commonplace with the extraordinary." Miami Herald

"Signature Russell: a fanciful, droll, elaborately thought-through allegory with a dark center. . . . Russell's language . . . is acrid, luminous, and deft. . . . 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." —Slate

"Weird, hilarious, and brilliant." The Millions

"An audaciously allegorical novella. . . . As engaging as it is provocative." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Product Details
ISBN: 9780525566083
ISBN-10: 0525566082
Publisher: Vintage
Publication Date: September 29th, 2020
Pages: 160
Language: English
Series: Vintage Contemporaries