NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t



Imagine an America that has been plagued for years by a mysterious epidemic of insomnia — an affliction so serious that many are dying from lack of sleep. That’s the futuristic premise of Karen Russell’s new novella, Sleep Donation. Russell’s 2011 novel , was a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and her short story collection won the praise of critics, including Fresh Air‘s Maureen Corrigan, who Russell’s work “otherworldly yet emotionally devastating” and “daffy and daring.” Sleep Donation was published Tuesday as an e-book. Russell tells Fresh Air‘s Dave Davies how she came up with the idea for an insomnia epidemic and using babies as sleep donors.”I’ve always had a hard time sleeping, and I was traveling for Vampires In The Lemon Grove and just red-eyed and insane and wandering around these strange hotels,” she says. “And so I’m sure somewhere I, myself, was craving a sleep donation. Then I got this assignment from The New Yorker, just a tiny thing: They did an innovations issue and they asked a couple writers to come up with imaginary inventions. And one of mine that wound up, actually, on the cutting room floor was the sleep van. I had this image of this ominous white van parked on a street not too far from — I was living in Fairmount [in Philadelphia] at the time. I was picturing this quiet suburban street; big, white moon and dreams glugging out of a donor — this way to donate dreams to insomniacs. MORE