I usually veer away from post-apocalyptic fiction; reading about bleak futures and humankind's seemingly inevitable descent into gritty, animal cruelty just leaves me depressed. I'm so glad that I gave Station Eleven a chance, because unlike so many post-apocalyptic novels, it's full of hope. At the heart of this book is the assertion that art — of all kinds — is what allows us to connect to one another, and the conviction that in times of trouble, art and connection are more important than ever. Mandel's borrowed Star Trek quote says it best: "Survival is insufficient." Recommended By Madeline S., Powells.com
An unusual take on the evolving genre of postapocalyptic fiction, Station Eleven describes the end of the world through the eyes of thespians. The power of storytelling is explored through Shakespeare's plays and St. John Mandel brilliantly describes the power of the stage even when the world is crumbling around us. Recommended By Alex Y., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
A National Book Award Finalist
A PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end.
Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band's existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.
"A superb novel...[that] leaves us not fearful for the end of the word but appreciative of the grace of everyday existence." San Francisco Chronicle
"Deeply melancholy, but beautifully written, and wonderfully elegiac....A book that I will long remember, and return to."
George R. R. Martin
"Darkly lyrical....A truly haunting book, one that is hard to put down." The Seattle Times
"Mandel delivers a beautifully observed walk through her book's 21st century world....I kept putting the book down, looking around me, and thinking, 'Everything is a miracle.'" Matt Thompson, NPR
"Think of Cormac McCarthy seesawing with Joan Didion....Magnetic." Kirkus (starred)
"It's hard to imagine a novel more perfectly suited, in both form and content, to this literary moment. Station Eleven, if we were to talk about it in our usual way, would seem like a book that combines high culture and low culture — 'literary fiction' and 'genre fiction.' But those categories aren't really adequate to describe the book." The New Yorker
"Audacious....A book about gratitude, about life right now, if we can live to look back on it." Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"A surprisingly beautiful story of human relationships amid devastation." The Washington Post
"Soul-quaking....Mandel displays the impressive skill of evoking both terror and empathy." Los Angeles Review of Books
About the Author
Emily St. John Mandel was born in British Columbia, Canada. Her most recent novel, Station Eleven, was a finalist for a 2014 National Book Award and a New York Times bestseller. Her previous novels were Last Night in Montreal, The Singer's Gun, and The Lola Quartet. She is a staff writer for The Millions, and her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including The Best American Mystery Stories 2013 and Venice Noir. She lives in New York City with her husband.