Some years I scratch my head in frustration over how much I prefer the long and short-lists for awards to the winners. As I loved Wolf in White Van last month, this month I am also selecting an amazing book picked from the National Book Award’s short-list, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. Station Eleven has already been placed on the ten best books of the year list by the Washington Post and I think it will be on many more selections. It is a great read and I believe a perfect pick for December’s Book Club Book of the Month. Ursula K. Le Guin just received the NBF Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters, one of the most prestigious literary honors. She was recognized as “one of the nations’s most revered writers of science fiction and fantasy, her fully imagined worlds challenging readers to consider profound philosophical and existential questions.” Emily St. John Mandel’s novel Station Eleven follows in the footsteps of the legacy of Le Guin. Station Eleven creates a post-apocolyptic world that examines memory and loss, nostalgia and yearning; the effort of art to deepen our fleeting impressions of the world and bolster our solitude. The novel starts with the death of an actor portraying Shakespeare’s King Lear on the stage. If you are going to delve into the human experience dystopic or not there is no better place to start than with the brilliant insight of Shakespeare’s plays. Let this book entertain you during the holiday season then select it to discuss in your 2015 book clubs.
About the Book
An audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame, and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse. One snowy night a famous Hollywood actor slumps over and dies onstage during a production of King Lear. Hours later, the world as we know it begins to dissolve. Moving back and forth in time—from the actor’s early days as a film star to fifteen years in the future, when a theater troupe known as The Travelling Symphony roams the wasteland of what remains—this suspenseful, elegiac, spellbinding novel charts the strange twists of fate that connect five people: the actor, the man who tried to save him, the actor’s first wife, his oldest friend, and a young actress with the Traveling Symphony, caught in the crosshairs of a dangerous self-proclaimed prophet. Sometimes terrifying, sometimes tender, Station Eleven tells a story about the relationships that sustain us, the ephemeral nature of fame, and the beauty of the world as we know it.
About the Author
Emily St. John Mandel was born and raised on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. She studied contemporary dance at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and lived briefly in Montreal before relocating to New York.
Her fourth novel, Station Eleven, is a 2014 National Book Award Finalist. All four of her novels—previous books were Last Night in Montreal, The Singer’s Gun, and The Lola Quartet—were Indie Next Picks, and The Singer’s Gun was the 2014 winner of the Prix Mystere de la Critique in France. Her short fiction and essays have been anthologized in numerous collections, including Best American Mystery Stories 2013. She is a staff writer for The Millions. She lives in New York City with her husband.