Walker's Bookshelf

Book of the Day: Station Eleven

In Station Eleven, author Emily St. John Mandel creates a convincing vision of humans struggling to survive after the collapse of modern life. The narrative moves back and forth between two eras, the pre-pandemic world of the 21st Century and the broken aftermath, twenty years later. 

Arthur is a successful actor playing King Lear in Toronto. He dies on stage from heart failure just as a deadly flu begins to decimate the world. His former wife, Miranda, is the creator of a self-published graphic novel called Station Eleven. In the future, copies of this sci-fi comic survive, becoming a private touchstone for various characters.   

When the Georgia Flu hits, Kirsten is a child actor performing at the Elgin Theatre in Toronto. By Year Twenty, flu survivors and their children have formed isolated settlements. As an adult, Kristin travels the post-apocalypse Great Lakes region with a caravan of performers whose credo, taken from Star Trek: Voyager, is that “survival is insufficient.” 

When Kristin and her theatre troupe encounter a messianic leader named The Prophet, the author reveals the curious links between her characters that lead to a satisfying, yet open, conclusion. I would enjoy reading a sequel to this novel—many of the characters have stayed with me through the years.

Winner of the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award and the 2015 Toronto Book Award, Station Eleven was also nominated for the National Book Award, the PEN/Faulkner Award, and the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction.