Station Eleven

Station Eleven

by Emily St. John Mandel

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Overview

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. 

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780804172448
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/02/2015
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 8,995
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Emily St. John Mandel was born in British Columbia, Canada. She is the author of three previous novels—Last Night in Montreal, The Singer’s Gun, and The Lola Quartet—all of which were Indie Next picks. 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.

www.emilymandel.com

Read an Excerpt

Jeevan’s understanding of disaster preparedness was based entirely on action movies, but on the other hand, he’d seen a lot of action movies. He started with water, filled one of the oversized shopping carts with as many cases and bottles as he could fit. There was a moment of doubt on the way to the cash registers, straining against the weight of the cart—was he overreacting?—but there was a certain momentum now, too late to turn back. The clerk raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Station Eleven"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Emily St. John Mandel.
Excerpted by permission of Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Reading Group Guide

The questions, discussion topics, and reading list that follow are intended to enhance your reading group’s discussion of Station Eleven, the dazzling new novel by acclaimed author Emily St. John Mandel.

1. Now that you’ve read the entire novel, go back and reread the passage by Czeslaw Milosz that serves as an epigraph. What does it mean? Why did Mandel choose it to introduce Station Eleven?

2. Does the novel have a main character? Who would you consider it to be?

3. Arthur Leander dies while performing King Lear, and the Traveling Symphony performs Shakespeare’s works. On page 57, Mandel writes, “Shakespeare was the third born to his parents, but the first to survive infancy. Four of his siblings died young. His son, Hamnet, died at eleven and left behind a twin. Plague closed the theaters again and again, death flickering over the landscape.” How do Shakespearean motifs coincide with those of Station Eleven, both the novel and the comic?

4. Arthur’s death happens to coincide with the arrival of the Georgia Flu. If Jeevan had been able to save him, it wouldn’t have prevented the apocalypse. But how might the trajectory of the novel been different?

5. What is the metaphor of the Station Eleven comic books? How does the Undersea connect to the events of the novel?

6. “Survival is insufficient,” a line from Star Trek: Voyager, is the Traveling Symphony’s motto. What does it mean to them?

7. The prophet discusses death: “I’m not speaking of the tedious variations on physical death. There’s the death of the body, and there’s the death of the soul. I saw my mother die twice.” Knowing who his mother was, what do you think he meant by that?

8. Certain items turn up again and again, for instance the comic books and the paperweight—things Arthur gave away before he died, because he didn’t want any more possessions. And Clark’s Museum of Civilization turns what we think of as mundane belongings into totems worthy of study. What point is Mandel making?

9. On a related note, some characters—like Clark—believe in preserving and teaching about the time before the flu. But in Kirsten’s interview with François Diallo, we learn that there are entire towns that prefer not to: “We went to a place once where the children didn’t know the world had ever been different . . . ”. What are the benefits of remembering, and of not remembering?

10. What do you think happened during the year Kirsten can’t remember?

11. In a letter to his childhood friend, Arthur writes that he’s been thinking about a quote from Yeats, “Love is like the lion’s tooth.”. What does this mean, and why is he thinking about it?

12. How does the impending publication of those letters affect Arthur?

13. Arthur remembers Miranda saying “I regret nothing,” and uses that to deepen his understanding of Lear, “a man who regrets everything,” as well as his own life. How do his regrets fit into the larger scope of the novel? Other than Miranda, are there other characters that refuse to regret?

14. Throughout the novel, those who were alive during the time before the flu remember specific things about those days: the ease of electricity, the taste of an orange. In their place, what do you think you’d remember most?

15. What do you imagine the Traveling Symphony will find when they reach the brightly lit town to the south?

16. The novel ends with Clark, remembering the dinner party and imagining that somewhere in the world, ships are sailing. Why did Mandel choose to end the novel with him?

Customer Reviews

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Station Eleven: A novel 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 113 reviews.
BrandieC More than 1 year ago
There has been a lot of "buzz" surrounding Emily St. John Mandel's contribution to the post-apocalyptic genre, Station Eleven, which was selected as one of Amazon's best books of the month for September. While I'm not sure that all the hype is quite justified, I did enjoy Mandel's writing and her fresh approach. Rather than placing her primary focus on the horrors and challenges of survival in a world decimated by the "Georgia flu," Mandel clearly believes the motto she gives her Traveling Symphony: "Survival is insufficient." The main characters in Station Eleven are not ex-military hardasses, as is so often the case in this genre; they are actors, musicians, and artists who believe that the fine arts are essential to our human identity, a sentiment with which I heartily agree. Mandel conveys this feeling not only through the actions and dialogue of her characters, but also by following key relics of the pre-apocalypse world (a paperweight, a comic book) as they pass through various hands, connecting lives in sometimes unexpected ways. We have here, not six degrees of Kevin Bacon, but six degrees of "Station Eleven," the comic book from which the novel draws its title. Strangely enough, Station Eleven's strength is also its main weakness. Mandel gives short shrift to her characters' survival narratives. Survival may be insufficient, but it is nevertheless essential. Kirsten Raymonde, the child actor who subsequently joins the Traveling Symphony in its Shakespeare productions, doesn't remember her first year as a survivor, presumably because it was too traumatic. Although I didn't need the gory details, I did feel as though her amnesia left a gaping hole as I reached the end of the book. This quibble aside, Station Eleven is a moving and surprisingly hopeful addition to the literature of the post-apocalypse. I received a free copy of Station Eleven through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you love literary fiction you'll love this. If you are not a fan of science fiction or dystopian fiction...well, read this anyway. It's all about character, time, and place. You'll love it and expand your horizons. Trust me!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am a sucker for the recent flood of apocalyptic tales, and this was one of the best stories I've read in a long time. It was less about the collapse of civilization and more about the characters experiences, but the story provided enough details of the events to be satisfying. I did not want the story to end, and yet I could not put the book down. I would recommend this to anyone who likes to read!
LongTimeFanNY More than 1 year ago
A good read. More a series of interwoven stories than a traditional novel. The stories/storylines influence each other, some directly, others indirectly. Past and present are presented in no particular order. This flipping back and forth between the times before and after the apocalyptic event emphasizes the order within chaos concept that is center to the overall story and drives home the fragile, transitory nature of life and all we take for granted.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wonderful! Emily is such a gifted writer. Engaging and beautifully written, STATION ELEVEN has something for everyone-a little sci-fi, dystopia, heartache and survival. I will recommend this book to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Though i am only 13 years of age (About to be 14), i would highly reccomend this book. This book is appropriate for ages 15 and up. Though there are some obscenities and graphic violence, this book will open your eyes to a whole new world of literacy. The author is honetly a genius, this peice of writing is absolutely preciously valuable.
Artistwriter More than 1 year ago
Not entirely what I expected, the novel has many more layers and depth to it. This is a story for those who appreciate character development as opposed to violence and clichés.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A wonderfully composed sci-fi story about how civilization in general and both decent and not so decent individuals fare when civilization as we know it collapses suddenly due to a worldwide calamity. Endlessly interesting. Satisfying how all the main characters eventually interact with each other either directly or indirectly. Brilliantly composed without a wasted word. Lots of action too, but the human relationships , and how people are shaped and changed by adversity very much intrigued me. People reacting under pressure. Moments of tragedy and humor with lots of action as civilization suddenly collapses. A must read for sci-fi fans!
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
There is an expectation among those who research such things, that the end of world, as it presently stands, will not occur due to a war fought over oil, religion or politics. Its final gasp will not be due to nuclear fallout or global warming.  The end will come because of a natural occurring virus against which 99.99% of humanity has no resistance. That is the premise upon which Ms. Mandel launches what has all the markings of a remarkable trilogy.  How humanity was whittled down to potentially extinction levels is of less importance in this story than how those who lived respond to being survivors of a sparsely populated world. The book opens with a production of Shakespeare’s King Lear at Toronto’s Elgin Theater. The death of the lead actor, Jeeven Chaudhary, star of stage and screen, from a heart attack during Act IV, is a death unrelated to the pandemic but it does set the tone for what will happen after the devastation the flu strain will bring is complete.  This flu is so contagious, incubates so quickly and is so deadly that humanity has no chance of responding; Shakespeare is timeless & humanity has been responding to his works for centuries. One of the book’s over-arching themes highlights the difference from the “temporary” from the “transcendent.” Kristen Raymonde is an 8-year-old bit player on stage when “King Lear” has his heart attack. In “Year 15,” as time is now measured, she is a member of a traveling Symphony and Shakespeare company. “Cities” are made up of groups of more than 100 and are typically centered around buildings constructed to serve people – former gas stations, fast food restaurants and big box stores. Houses, for reason’s unclear are shunned and allowed to dilapidate after being repeatedly searched. Everyone who survived Year One is leery, paranoid and guarded. As the troupe is on constant tour, they see the stagnation of humanity and are on constant alert for fear of a reoccurrence of “what happened.” In response to what she sees Kristen ponders if, perhaps, “humanity should pass from existence.” At each stop, the Company performs - music one night, Shakespeare the next. The story is told in flashbacks each “visit to before” sheds light on how those still living came to react as they do, how seeming disparate events and elements were not as random as they first seem, everything and everyone is connected to the present. Life is reduced to its basics – food, water, shelter, community. One goes to bed at dark and rises with the sun. Questions so important when “everything worked” are revealed to be empty, replaced by deeper ponderings of faith, power, beauty and trust. The survivors are no longer connected to possessions, having learned to treasure what is of real value. Religion is still alive in this new age, as is the genuine faith sometimes found in its practitioners. What is more often the case, however, in this tale of warning, is one’s “religion” gives credence to delusion. Prophets abound, their followers seeming to find safety in following the words of one who “hears the voice of god” and will obey what this prophet says, even if it means violating every moral and value they possess. The book ends with many questions answered and new paths discovered.  The “end” did not feel like a conclusion, Kristen’s angst was confronted with hope.  I would like for this journey to continue, but if Ms. Mandel brought her readers to the intended place of parting, it is a good spot to rest.  
Drewano More than 1 year ago
I’m a huge fan of the post-apocalyptic genre and I’ve read tons of books but none like “Station Eleven” and I guess that’s because I would say that it doesn’t fall into this genre.  Oh don’t get me wrong it take place just before and after the Georgia Flu has killed 99% of the world’s population, but it’s not about that at all.  Some books take you thought the collapse of civilization some only show the aftermath but this book takes you right through it but it completely glosses over it.  One character rides it out his brother’s apartment one in an airport but the author keeps us confined in these areas.  When people do leave we only hear what they say when they come back and don’t get to see what goes on for ourselves.  Even the news reports the reader hears are broad generalizations.  This book is all about the characters, their interactions with each other, how their lives intertwine and their actions and regrets in this fleeting world.   It’s was written and thought provoking and sometimes frustrating (the biggest example is the lack of discussion of the evolution of The Prophet being huge missed opportunity) but overall a great example of modern literary fiction.
karatepen More than 1 year ago
This is brilliantly constructed novel with great complexity of characters and time lines. St. John Mandel intertwines her characters and time with ease flow and great love for the integrity and ambition of the theme she tackles. I was intrigued by the characters plot and had trouble getting emotionally involved.This is a novel of desperation,trust and hope in relationships that help all of us survive in different levels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am only 200 pages into this book but I can already tell I'm going to be sad when it ends. The author has masterfully created a post civilization world that forces the reader to examine their current life and wonder what it would be like to live without the luxuries we have come to expect. This book isn't gross or creepy just a wonderfully organized plot that keeps you hooked. I can't wait to see where it goes but I also never want it to end. I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A key quote from Star Trek in this beautifully written and more upbeat post-apocalyptic novel. Highly recommend.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My previous review indicating this was drivel was premature. After the first 50 pages the sgiry picks up and the writing also improves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
There is a fine line between hoe and despair in post apocalyptic noves and she threads that path perfectly. So much that it makes you think...if the worlrd were to end next week : would you be happy witj your life?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book! So fantastic and beautifully written!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I HAD TO READ IT FOR CLUB. WHAT A STRUGGLE.
Haziegaze More than 1 year ago
I was really looking forward to reading this. I have heard and read rave reviews about how fantastic it is so was chuffed to bits when I was provided with a copy from Netgalley via the publisher, Picador, and I settled down to read. What can I say? Is there something wrong with me? I just didn't get it. I don’t know why but it just didn't grab me at all and, I'm sorry to say, I found it boring so much so that I skim read parts just to get it over with a bit quicker. I recognise when I am not enjoying a book because I find myself subconsciously finding other things to do rather than read and I did this quite a lot whilst trudging through this book. The characters, although well written were just not that interesting and I found myself not caring what happened or happens to them. I found the whole thing a mix of different stories which was confusing and just didn't seem cohesive.  Maybe it was partly because it was told from different points of view with no central character. Maybe it was the Shakespeare - I'm not a huge fan.  Maybe it was a bit too “deep” for me … I'm a simple person who reads purely for enjoyment and I don’t want to have to think too hard to find complex meaning … my job is taxing enough on my brain, I don’t want it to be overworked! This book received so much hype that I think it raised my expectations and I was just left feeling flat and unconvinced and actually rather sad. I even left it a few days before writing this review because sometimes if I give it a few days to reflect on what I've read, it sometimes helps but unfortunately not in this case - it just didn't do it for me at all. I realise that I am in a minority here and there are loads of people who love this book so I suggest you give it a go and make your own mind up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just finished this. It was good, but confusing at times. Don't really like the back and forth. Really makes you think about the little everyday items you would lose and what could become important. Is remembering important? This could apply today. I would probably read this author again.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Great book. Complex story, tied up nicely.
JerseyBoy More than 1 year ago
Based on the editorial reviews, I was anxious to read the book. In my opinion the book was overhyped for my taste. It was good but not as captivating as many suggest. If I had checked this book out of the library rather than purchased it, I probably would have returned it to the library before I finished reading it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Station Eleven is a very well written novel that stays with you long after you've finished it. It is haunting and painful to read, but it is also a worthwhile study of humanity in the face of absolute tragedy.
tommygrrl723 More than 1 year ago
Good, thought provoking concept for a book, the characters were (for the most part) likeable and interesting. There were, however, times when the book was hard to get through, and I was disappointed with the swiftness in the climax of the storyline, followed by the somewhat drawn out ending that didn't add much to the story, and didn't give a good explanation for foreseeable future to the characters. Still, an overall good read.
pooled_ink More than 1 year ago
pooled ink Reviews: 3.5 Stars STATION ELEVEN displays a poetic tale of terror, helplessness, strength, and survival. An entire array of human emotion is spun creatively to a steady heartbeat that is life and unyielding time. I think if you enjoy books that explore the depths and complexities of humanity edged with an apocalyptic backdrop then you'll enjoy this one. **Read the full review on Wordpress: Pooled Ink
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Compelling and insightful.