Reading the novels of David Mitchell can ruin you for his genre, which I can only and insufficiently describe as scifi-fantasy-thriller-postmoderism (but not really any of those). In fact, The Bone Clocks might ruin you for just about any contemporary fiction genre, and if it doesn’t, the remarkable and astonishing Cloud Atlas certainly will.
That being said, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel deserves its place on this shelf, and the many awards it has won. Her story is not as long as Clocks or Atlas, nor the writing quite as gripping or the characters quite as entrapping, yet each chapter in the book is a delight and the thing in its whole, at least for me, was a great read and well worth the time. This is sophisticated stuff, entertaining, vivid, frightening, provocative, and hopeful. I look forward to her next.
The blurb from the jacket:
An audacious, darkly glittering novel about art, fame, and ambition set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, from the author of three highly-acclaimed previous novels.
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.