“I wanted to write a love letter to the modern world, and a way to write about all these things we take for granted was to write about their absence.” Mandel recently talked to the New York Times about this post-apocalyptic novel that features a travelling caravan of Shakespearean actors, a limited edition comic book, and numerous characters and plot lines woven expertly together.
We fell in love with this book so hard that it launched a whole new program here at BookPeople. Trust Fall is a subscription-based book club in which you trust us to send you one book, sight unseen, four times a year. (You can also opt to try out just one book at a time.) We’re throwing other goodies into the boxes along with the book.
The first Trust Fall shipment includes:
- A signed, first edition of Emily St. John Mandel’s beautiful new novel, Station Eleven.
- An exclusive BookPeople Trust Fall Q&A with Emily St. John Mandel.
- A Hey Y’all tote bag designed by a BookPeople bookseller and printed here in Austin by Industry Print Shop.
- A limited, numbered linocut inspired by Station Eleven created by a local Austin artist.
- An advance copy of a great recent or upcoming release from our partners at Penguin Random House.
We’re now prepping packages to ship out to everyone who took a chance and ordered this book in advance, with no idea what was in store for their reading lists (other than a break-out novel we can’t stop talking about). Trust Fall #1 packages are still available to order, all goodies included. Subscribe, or choose to try out the first package, and we’ll ship Station Eleven and everything listed above to your door (we ship worldwide).
In addition to serving as our inaugural Trust Fall selection, Station Eleven also receives the Top Shelf honor in our newsletter this month. Our own Emily (an Austin thespian, as well as a bookseller) wrote this review:
As I read Emily St. John Mandel’s quietly powerful, unassuming fourth novel, I found its story seeping into my thoughts at odd moments. I couldn’t seem to leave behind the strange web of coincidences and connections that underlie Mandel’s unfolding of a world separated into halves by a mysterious and deadly plague, a plague that becomes the dividing line between life Before and life After.
Station Eleven begins in the present, onstage at a Toronto playhouse. An actor collapses in the middle of King Lear, dying amid a flurry of false snow before the curtain can be drawn.
On a stage, life can be fully examined, becoming suddenly precious when held up to the light. The fragility of a moment is expanded and illuminated when performed in front of a watching audience. Simple things, inconsequential moments, are filled with new meaning when taken in the context of the story as a whole. Attention is paid in a way that we often overlook in daily life. It is fitting, then, that Mandel chooses to begin her piece about the fragility of human society, of existence itself, in the microcosm of the theatre. Beginning with this small death in the middle of King Lear, Mandel weaves back and forth through time and geographical space, tracing the lives that intersect in the theatre that night, lives that begin to flicker out and lives that are brought into new meaning when the deadly Georgia Flu starts its creep across the globe, effectively ending society as it has up to that moment been known.
The devastating flu wipes out nearly everything in its path. In mere hours, millions of lives are ended and millions of stories disappear from existence, leaving small settlements scattered in remote areas, holding on to the confusion and hope that there will be a chance for humankind to rebuild its shattered foundations. Out of this hope comes the Traveling Symphony, a band of actors and musicians that bring art and story into these fractured lives, performing Shakespeare’s classics for the remnants of society, classics that were written in a time of great devastation and plague and passed down through the centuries against all odds, their messages miraculously retaining their relevance and their brilliance. Even in the midst of devastation, art is required. Perhaps art is required even more so in the midst of disaster because of its ability to bring new meaning to light, and as I read, I deeply appreciated the author’s awareness of this fact.
Mandel effortlessly lights on these fractured, fragile moments, the strange twisting threads of intersecting lives, endowing them with a meaning and a beauty that may only be found in impermanence.
Station Eleven is a study of The End; the end of life as it has been known, the end of the machine of society, of stories and institutions that we take for granted will exist when we wake up each new morning. It is a study of an ending, yes, but more than that, it is a subtle study in appreciation, appreciation of the fragility of a life that may end at any second, for the strange webs that intertwine against all odds to connect us and to bring us together for fleeting moments.
Copies of Station Eleven are on our shelves as of Tuesday, September 9th!
Pick one up in-store or via bookpeople.com.