‘MI I PL ET RIUM’: navigating a post-apocalyptic world in Karen Russell’s “The Gondoliers”


  • Eva Sabine Zehelein University of Bamberg




Apocalypse, climate change, intersectionality, Russell, short story


Far from being speculative fiction à la Atwood or just another cli-fi piece, Karen Russell’s short story “The Gondoliers” is a genre b(l)ending text, a ‘Southern Gothic 2.0.’ Rife with intertextual references, it entwines cli-fi with the “freakishly imaginative” (Roy 2019) which is Russell’s signature hallmark—the mythological, supernatural and magical realist, maybe even the surreal. As the following sets out to show, the story employs the post-apocalyptic scenery of climate-change-induced “New Florida” to hint at current social iniquities and draws on timeless ruminations about individualism and identity also to comment on contemporary discourses about epistemological uncertainty.

Author Biography

Eva Sabine Zehelein, University of Bamberg

Eva-Sabine Zehelein is adjunct professor of American Studies at the Otto-Friedrich-University Bamberg (Germany). She specializes in 20th and 21st century North American literatures and (popular) cultures, leads an international and interdisciplinary research group on “Family Matters,” and is currently investigating “family narratives” through a reproductive justice lens.


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