Survival is insufficient Book review: Station Eleven – a novel, by Emily st John Mandel


A few years after the apocalypse (created by a new strain of flu, amongst other things), in the nearly deserted landscape that has become North America, a company travels to bring Shakespeare and music to the small towns, judging, after Star Trek, that mere survival is insufficient. The book travels back and forth between before the end of days as we know them, to a night in  Chicago where a famous actor died playing Lear, his life, his diaries, his wives, and after everything has collapsed, and we follow Kirsten and her fellow actors, struggling to do more than survive in a land of insecurity, new prophets and their suspicious cults.

It is as much a book about the end of civilization, and what constitutes indeed our civilization, how fragile it is, than it is about human relationships. It is about sadness, is is tinted with a sort of slow melancholy, and it is multi layered, but what impressed me the most was how it is constructed: all along you discover tenuous links between the characters, one I can reveal without spoiling the book is that the title refers to a  comic book that one of the famous actor’s wives wrote, and that Kristen cherishes. That book inside the book is about an explorer exiled in another planet after earth has been destroyed, (again, so many layers!) but there are many others, that always bring you back to the one night before everything started, when King Lear died on stage.
Impressive, then, beautifully written and very difficult to put down once you’ve started. I know it is in fashion to write and read postapocalyptic novels, right now, but this one is much more than just a book following a trend. Read it!

Quotes: 1st sentence:
The king stood in a pool of blue light,unmoored.


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