Articles by Emily St. John Mandel

September 6, 2012

Eating Dirt: On Charlotte Gill and the Life of the Treeplanter 2

Gill’s stories are fascinating, but she is possessed of that rarest of attributes among memoirists: an understanding of her own story as only a part of a broader picture, a willingness to broaden the focus beyond the particulars of her personal experience.

September 4, 2012

Disorientation: A Reading List 10

“Do you believe,” the journalist asked, “or fear, that the world is a mirage, or a hoax?”

August 21, 2012

Everything is a Question: Jorge Amado’s The Double Death of Quincas Water-Bray 11

Is he alive, or is he dead? There are moments in this very funny, very ghoulish novella when he seems definitely one or the other; other moments when he might somehow be both. He’s roughly the fictional equivalent of Schrödinger’s cat.

July 31, 2012

Staff Pick: Saul Bellow’s The Bellarosa Connection 2

Do the ones who save us owe us anything? The Bellarosa Connection is fascinating as a study of memory and regret.

June 26, 2012

Dispatches from an Opium Den: Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis 1

Jeet Thayil’s debut novel is an unsettling portrait of a seething city, a beautifully-written meditation on addiction, sex, friendship, dreams, and murder.

June 21, 2012

Nanny Noir: Wolf Haas’ Brenner and God 2

Simon Brenner is an ex-detective, a man in middle age who has decided after trying out more than fifty professions that he was born to be a chauffeur. Although actually, “chauffeur” doesn’t seem exactly the right word for his current employment: he’s almost, when you come right down to it, a sort of Autobahn-based nanny.

May 10, 2012

Staff Pick: H.H. Munro’s The Best of Saki 8

H.H. Munro wrote a great many light and often very funny send-ups of the stifling conventions and manners of the Edwardian age. But on the other hand, three of the first eight stories in the book involve corpses, with two of these being small children eaten by wild animals.

April 27, 2012

Adventures in Self-Publishing: Dallas Hudgens’ Wake Up, We’re Here 9

Hudgens doesn’t shy away from the brutality of life on earth — the illness, the decreptitude, the humiliations and the teen suicides — but the grittiness is never gratuitous, and his stories are infused with compassion and humanity.

March 28, 2012

The ___’s Daughter 81

To be clear, I think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with calling one’s book The ___’s Daughter. I think those titles have a marvelous rhythm to them. And yet one can’t help but wonder why there seem to be so many of them.

March 20, 2012

Nick Harkaway’s Angelmaker 1

Harkaway manages to write surrealist adventure novels that feel both urgent and relevant. His novels are fun to read without seeming particularly frivolous, and beneath all the derring-do and shenanigans, there’s a low thrum of anxiety: everything and everyone you love could disappear at any moment. There is nothing that you cannot lose.