by Emily St.John Mandel
“Jeevan found himself thinking about how human the city is, how human everything is. We bemoaned the impersonality of the modern world, but that was a lie, it seemed to him; it had never been impersonal at all. There had always been a massive delicate infrastructure of people, all of them working unnoticed around us, and when people stop going to work, the entire operation grinds to a halt.“
I try not to be biased, but it’s not often I get to see one of my all-time favourite books heading to the Canada Reads stage! Station Eleven was longlisted in 2016, which is–I believe–how I first discovered it, but didn’t make it to the debates. I read it anyway, and was struck by it as a post-apocalyptic narrative that focused not on the disaster itself, but the aftermath, as well as the way that pop culture remnants form an important touchstone for those who remember the pre-apocalypse world. I’ve since read it again with my book club, and turned to it as a familiar touchstone in the spring of 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown. If you prefer audiobooks, there’s an excellent version narrated by Kirsten Potter. Station Eleven sits alongside other literary takes on the apocalypse, from Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake to Chang-rae Lee’s On Such a Full Sea, but it wins me over by effortlessly balancing comic books and Star Trek right alongside Shakespeare.
Read my full review from 2016.
Station Eleven will be defended by actor and dancer Michael Greyeyes on Canada Reads 2023, set to air March 27-30 on CBC. The theme this year is one book to shift your perspective.
Station Eleven is “an extraordinary journey into the things that hold us together — into our dreams and the things so dear to us we cannot leave them behind.” -Michael Greyeyes
You might also like:
Songs for the End of the World by Saleema Nawaz
The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
We Stand on Guard by Brian K. Vaughan