The Book We’re Talking About: ‘Station Eleven’ By Emily St. John Mandel

Station Eleven
by Emily St. John Mandel
Knopf, $24.95
Published September 9, 2014

What we think:

After an efficient strain of the flu wipes out civilization in a handful of days (fevers, air travel, overcrowded hospitals, clogged highways, silence), the survivors, mostly huddled into small “cities” of 100 people or less, face struggles similar to those they encountered pre-apocalypse: In addition to warding off predators, they squabble over living spaces, question their children’s’ education and debate the quality of different artistic mediums.

This is the power of dystopian stories, which remain all the rage this year: They shed light not only on our present anxieties about humanity’s collapse, but on how people act when they’re placed, more or less, in a vacuum. Emily St. John Mandel’s take, in her fourth novel Station Eleven, is mostly an optimistic one: While some communities devolve into cults with overbearing leaders, she alludes to the idea that most of these troubled societies developed this way out of fear, and possibly even as a response to trauma.

Aside from these threatening outliers, Mandel’s characters — she follows a diverse and sometimes interconnected cast before and after the Georgia Flu — are well-meaning proponents of the arts. One swells —> Read More Here


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