Articles by Emily St. John Mandel

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.

February 22, 2012

Arrested Development: Leigh Stein’s The Fallback Plan 17

I’ve been thinking lately about adulthood. When it begins, what expectations we might reasonably have of those just entering through its gates, and how we represent it in our fiction.

January 19, 2012

Dark Pensées: Fraser Nixon’s The Man Who Killed 2

Fraser Nixon’s debut novel is a fast, sharp piece of work. Novels with plots and titles like this one are easily filed under crime fiction, but this is one of countless instances where artificial divisions of genre do readers a disservice.

December 17, 2011

Year in Reading: Emily St. John Mandel 2

There’s a body in the first chapter, but the real story here isn’t the crime; it’s the extent to which we’re willing to lie to ourselves, to ignore the obvious, in pursuit of happiness or companionship or love.

November 30, 2011

Naples and The Gallery 2

John Horne Burns’ The Gallery was his first book, a chronicle of the chaos and beauty and horror of occupied Naples in 1943 and 1944. It’s an interesting hybrid: a novel in which stories alternate with an elegant travelogue, and the travelogue appears to be the author’s memoir: “I remember that at Casablanca it dawned on me that maybe I’d come overseas to die.”

November 23, 2011

Staff Pick: Steve Erickson’s Zeroville 5

Zeroville is a work of surpassing strangeness and beauty. Vikar is possesed by movies, and he’s come to the promised land. He has a tattoo of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift on his shaved head, a red tear drop inked below an eye.

September 28, 2011

Very Bad Things: A Pessimistic Reading List 9

Troubling works of fiction for troubled times.

September 16, 2011

Staff Pick: Kenneth Fearing’s The Big Clock 0

In Kenneth Fearing’s 1946 noir novel, a Manhattan writer is given the unenviable task of tracking himself down.

September 2, 2011

Irène Némirovsky, Suite Française, and The Mirador 1

Notes on the French novelist Irène Némirovsky, her “violent masterpiece” Suite Française, and the imaginary memoir written by her daughter.

August 29, 2011

Staff Pick: Daniele Mastrogiacomo’s Days of Fear 1

In the spring of 2007, the Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo arrived in Afghanistan. He was there to conduct an interview with a Taliban commander, but the promised interview was a trap.