Articles by Emily St. John Mandel

April 30, 2014

Meanwhile, in a Dark Forest: On Jonas T. Bengtsson’s A Fairy Tale 0

A Fairy Tale is a fascinating and often brutal meditation on alienation and trauma. “What separates man from any other species,” Peter’s father told him one evening, before it all came undone, “is his ability to adapt.” But in A Fairy Tale, adaptation is precisely the problem.

March 7, 2014

A Closed World: On By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept 3

By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept is a staggering accomplishment, an exquisite and often ecstatic rendition of a tumultuous affair: “Jupiter has been with Leda, I thought, and now nothing can avert the Trojan wars. All legend will be broken, but who will escape alive?”

December 14, 2013

A Year in Reading: Emily St. John Mandel 2

What makes Scissors extraordinary isn’t Stéphane Michaka’s technical fireworks, but the humanity and compassion with which he presents his flawed and fascinating characters, in their struggles with alcoholism, with one another, with their work, with themselves.

August 27, 2013

On The Pleasures and Solitudes of Quiet Books 24

“Books are solitudes in which we meet,” Rebecca Solnit wrote. But before the meeting comes the solitude, the book as a private space that a reader steps into, and there are moments when escaping into a book is a bid for some measure of seclusion. If the solitude you crave at the moment is a quiet one, here’s a short reading list of quiet books that I’ve recently read and admired.

August 8, 2013

The Asking is Both Graceful and Profound: On the Stories of Josephine Rowe 0

In the absence of context, only the things that are truly important remain: someone was here, and freight trains broke their heart, and someone wanted them to stay but they didn’t.

July 31, 2013

A Woman’s Unraveling: On Suzanne Rindell’s The Other Typist 0

The rapidly loosening mores of that time looked like freedom, but the level of risk that comes with freedom is never, of course, the same for everyone. Everyone who frequented the speakeasies of 1920s New York was taking a risk, but some had a net to catch them if they fell, and others didn’t.

July 11, 2013

Motherless Tacoma: On Eric Barnes’s Something Pretty, Something Beautiful 0

Cars are freedom, stories are everything, and home is thick with ghosts.

June 28, 2013

The Bulldozing Powers of Cheap 3

Story of My People is an angry, eloquent, and beautifully written book, a hybrid of memoir and social commentary that took Italy’s prestigious Strega prize in 2011. This is a story about a man who loved his company and had to sell it, but this story is a microcosm for the decline of the Italian textiles industry and, more broadly, for the decline of manufacturing in the first world as industry has turned to cheaper labor markets elsewhere.

May 14, 2013

War is Just Business: John le Carré’s A Delicate Truth 4

There are moments when the machinery of plot grinds a little too obviously, but Le Carré remains formidable. Here, as elsewhere in his body of work, Le Carré proves himself a master of character development.

May 13, 2013

Just How Far Will She Go? Nicole Wolverton’s The Trajectory of Dreams 5

In The Trajectory of Dreams, Wolverton has created one of the most haunting unreliable narrators I’ve ever come across. She is both deeply sympathetic and extremely dangerous.