The Georgia Flu explodes over the surface of the earth like a neutron bomb. News reports put the mortality rate at over 99%.
Civilization has crumbled.
A band of actors and musicians called the Travelling Symphony move through their territories performing concerts and Shakespeare to the settlements that have grown up there. Twenty years after the pandemic, life feels relatively safe. But now a new danger looms, and he threatens the hopeful world every survivor has tried to rebuild.
Moving backwards and forwards in time, from the glittering years just before the collapse to the strange and altered world that exists twenty years after, Station Eleven charts the unexpected twists of fate that connect six people: famous actor Arthur Leander; Jeevan - warned about the flu just in time; Arthur's first wife Miranda; Arthur's oldest friend Clark; Kirsten, a young actress with the Travelling Symphony; and the mysterious and self-proclaimed 'prophet'.
Thrilling, unique and deeply moving, this is a beautiful novel that asks questions about art and fame and about the relationships that sustain us through anything - even the end of the world.
About the Author
Emily St. John Mandel was born in Canada and studied dance at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. She is the author of the novels Last Night in Montreal, The Singer's Gun, The Lola Quartet and Station Eleven and is a staff writer for The Millions. She is married and lives in New York.
Glorious, unexpected, superbly written; just try putting it down.
Once in a very long while a book becomes a brand new old friend, a story you never knew you always wanted. Station Eleven is that rare find that feels familiar and extraordinary at the same time, expertly weaving together future and present and past, death and life and Shakespeare. This is truly something special.
Erin Morgenstern, author of THE NIGHT CIRCUS
Visually stunning, dreamily atmospheric and impressively gripping ... Station Eleven is not so much about apocalypse as about memory and loss, nostalgia and yearning; the effort of art to deepen our fleeting impressions of the world and bolster our solitude.
'Station Eleven is so compelling, so fearlessly imagined, that I wouldn't have put it down for anything. I think this one is really going to go places.'
Ann Patchett, author of BEL CANTO and STATE OF WONDER
A beautiful and unsettling book, the action moves between the old and new world, drawing connections between the characters and their pasts and showing the sweetness of life as we know it now and the value of friendship, love and art over all the vehicles, screens and remote controls that have been rendered obsolete. Mandel's skill in portraying her post-apocalyptic world makes her fictional creation seem a terrifyingly real possibility. Apocalyptic stories once offered the reader a scary view of an alternative reality and the opportunity, on putting the book down, to look around gratefully at the real world. This is a book to make its reader mourn the life we still lead and the privileges we still enjoy.
Station Eleven is a firework of a novel. Elegantly constructed and packed with explosive beauty, it's full of life and humanity and the aftershock of memory.
Lauren Beukes, author of THE SHINING GIRLS
There is no shortage of post-apocalyptic thrillers on the shelves these days, but Station Eleven is unusually haunting ... There is an understated, piercing nostalgia ... there is humour, amid the collapse ... and there is Mandel's marvellous creation, the Travelling Symphony, travelling from one scattered gathering of humanity to another ... There is also a satisfyingly circular mystery, as Mandel unveils neatly, satisfyingly, the links between her disparate characters ... This book will stay with its readers much longer than more run-of-the-mill thrillers.
Alison Flood, Thriller of the Month, Observer
Station Eleven is a magnificent, compulsive novel that cleverly turns the notion of a "kinder, gentler time" on its head. And, oh, the pleasure of falling down the rabbit hole of Mandel's imagination - a dark, shimmering place rich in alarmingly real detail and peopled with such human, such very appealing characters.
Liza Klaussmann, author of TIGERS IN RED WEATHER
A genuinely unsettling dystopian novel that also allows for moments of great tenderness. Emily St. John Mandel conjures indelible visuals, and her writing is pure elegance.
Patrick deWitt, author of THE SISTERS BROTHERS (shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize)
An ambitious and addictive novel
Sarah Hughes Guardian
Possibly the most captivating and thought-provoking post-apocalyptic novel you will ever read ... Mandel truly creates a unique future - no battling for resources, but a Travelling Symphony of musicians and actors who go from settlement to settlement performing Shakespeare plays. Mandel's message is that civilisation - and just as importantly, art - will endure as long as there is life. She tells us that when humanity's back is against the wall, decency will emerge. Mandel has a beautiful writing style and the chapters preceding the apocalypse (the book jumps around in time) show an assured handle on human emotions and relationships, particularly those sequences involving Arthur Leander ... Though not without tension and a sense of horror, Station Eleven rises above the bleakness of the usual post-apocalyptic novels because its central concept is one so rarely offered in the genre - hope.
Independent on Sunday
Station Eleven reads as a love letter - acknowledging all those things we would most miss and all those things we would still have
Karen Joy Fowler, author of WE ARE ALL COMPLETELY BESIDE OURSELVES
Disturbing, inventive and exciting, Station Eleven left me wistful for a world where I still live.
Jessie Burton, author of THE MINIATURIST
A haunting tale of art and the apocalypse. Station Eleven is an unmissable experience.
Samantha Shannon, author of THE BONE SEASON
Tremendous ... if you are looking for a novel you can just wallow in I'd pick Station Eleven up right now.
Jane Garvey BBC Radio 4, Woman's Hour
Station Eleven begins with a spectacular end. One night in a Toronto theater, onstage performing the role of King Lear, 51-year-old Arthur Leander has a fatal heart attack. There is barely time for people to absorb this shock when tragedy on a considerably vaster scale arrives in the form of a flu pandemic so lethal that, within weeks, most of the world's population has been killed ... Mandel is an exuberant storyteller ... Readers will be won over by her nimble interweaving of her characters' lives and fates ... Station Eleven is as much a mystery as it is a post-apocalyptic tale ... Mandel is especially good at planting clues and raising the kind of plot-thickening questions that keep the reader turning pages ... Station Eleven offers comfort and hope to those who believe, or want to believe, that doomsday can be survived, that in spite of everything people will remain good at heart, and when they start building a new world they will want what was best about the old.
Sigrid Nunez New York Times