Whether with her bizarre novel Swamplandia! or her recent short story collection Vampires in the Lemon Grove, Pulitzer finalist Karen Russell has never shied away from literary experimentation. Now she’s tackling another form: the e-novella. The debut title from Atavist Books, Sleep Donation (out Mar. 25) will explore a future America in which an insomnia epidemic is affecting hundreds of thousands of people. Enter the Slumber Corps, an organization that urges healthy dreamers to donate sleep to an insomniac. Under the wealthy and enigmatic Storch brothers the Corps’ reach has grown, with outposts in every major US city. Trish Edgewater, whose sister Dori was one of the first victims of the lethal insomnia, has spent the past seven years recruiting for the Corps. But Trish’s faith in the organization and in her own motives begins to falter when she is confronted by “Baby A,” the first universal sleep donor, and the mysterious “Donor Y.”
For a novella with an inventive plot, legendary book jacket designer Chip Kidd came up with an ingenius cover design. “I’m in awe of Karen Russell as a writer, and the way she articulates her extraordinary ideas,” says Kidd. “It was a thrill to work for her, and to create a book cover that responds to the reader much in the way many of her sleep-afflicted characters in the story might. More precisely: what happens when you poke a virtual book jacket in the eye? This was so much fun to conceive and execute, and the illustrator Kevin Tong and the team at Atavist Books did a fantastic job of realizing my concept and making it actually work. I still love print, and hope to work in it for the rest of my life, but what it really comes down to regardless of the medium is a visual idea that is derived from the text.”
Give the virtual cover an e-poke here.