May Books: Emily St. John Mandel – Station Eleven

Not another post apocalypse novel, I hear you cry. Well yes, but this is one you should read as its one of the best books I’ve read this year.

As Arthur Leander, a fading actor takes to the stage in a performance of King Lear, the “Georgia Flu” sweeps the earth and ends up killing most of the population. A survivor is Kirsten who was a child actor in that performance of Lear.

20 years later  a troupe of actors and musicians – including Kirsten – travel the tiny nascent settlements that have clung on to life along the eastern seaboard. The story follows the fortunes of the “Traveling Symphony”, but also through flashbacks, we follow the characters as the pandemic approached, and discover how what happened then goes forward to influence life after the pandemic.

A very believable post pandemic world is described – petrol is unusable after 3 years for instance – and people still stare longingly into a sky looking for aircraft that will never appear.

The book won the Arthur C Clarke Award and has been nominated for various other awards.

National Book Award Finalist
PEN/Faulkner Award Finalist
Longlisted for the Bailey’s Prize (formerly the Orange Prize) and for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
A New York Times bestseller
Winner of The Morning News 2015 Tournament of Books
An American Library Association Notable Book
Named best book of the year by Entertainment Weekly and BookPage

 

 

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