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Islington Branch Book Club - Past Titles: "Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel

Take a look through previous titles we've discussed at our Islington Branch Book Club

"Station Eleven" by Emily St. John Mandel

  1. How does the novel explore the idea of civilization and its fragility in the face of a global pandemic? What parallels can be drawn between the fictional collapse of society in "Station Eleven" and real-world events or historical occurrences?

  2. Discuss the significance of the Traveling Symphony and Shakespearean performances in the novel. How does art serve as a source of comfort, connection, and hope for the characters in a world devastated by the pandemic?

  3. Explore the theme of memory and nostalgia in "Station Eleven." How do characters like Kirsten Raymonde and Arthur Leander grapple with memories of the past, and what role do these memories play in shaping their identities and motivations?

  4. Consider the portrayal of survival and adaptation in the novel. How do characters like Kirsten and the members of the Traveling Symphony navigate the challenges of post-apocalyptic life, and what does their resilience reveal about the human capacity for survival and renewal?

  5. Analyze the role of religion and spirituality in "Station Eleven." How do characters like the Prophet and his followers interpret and manipulate faith in the aftermath of the pandemic, and what impact does it have on the societies they create?

  6. Discuss the theme of interconnectedness and the butterfly effect in the novel. How do seemingly insignificant events or choices ripple outward and affect the lives of the characters, both before and after the collapse of society?

  7. Explore the concept of heroism and hero worship in "Station Eleven." How do characters like Arthur Leander and Dr. Eleven embody different forms of heroism, and how do their actions inspire or influence others in the novel?

  8. Consider the portrayal of technology and its role in shaping pre- and post-apocalyptic society in the novel. How do characters like Jeevan and Kirsten navigate their relationship with technology, and how does it impact their understanding of the world around them?

  9. Reflect on the theme of community and the importance of human connection in "Station Eleven." How do characters form and maintain bonds of friendship and family in a world where traditional social structures have collapsed?

  10. Discuss the novel's ending and its implications for the characters and the future of humanity. How does the resolution of the story reflect the themes and motifs explored throughout the novel?

Emily St. John Mandel is a Canadian-American author known for her acclaimed novels that blend elements of literary fiction, mystery, and speculative fiction. Here is a biography of her:

Emily St. John Mandel was born on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. She spent her childhood moving frequently between Canada, the United States, and Europe due to her father's career as a research scientist. This upbringing exposed her to a variety of cultures and landscapes, which would later influence her writing.

Mandel attended The School of Toronto Dance Theatre, where she studied contemporary dance before transitioning to writing. She graduated from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, where she studied English and contemporary dance.

Mandel's literary career began with the publication of her debut novel, "Last Night in Montreal," in 2009. The novel follows the mysterious disappearance of a young woman named Lilia and explores themes of identity, memory, and family. It received critical acclaim and established Mandel as a talented new voice in contemporary fiction.

In 2010, Mandel published her second novel, "The Singer's Gun," which tells the story of a young man named Anton who becomes entangled in a web of crime and deception. The novel explores themes of identity, morality, and the consequences of choices.

However, it was her fourth novel, "Station Eleven," published in 2014, that garnered widespread critical acclaim and international recognition. The novel is set in a post-apocalyptic world devastated by a global pandemic and follows a diverse cast of characters as they navigate the aftermath of civilization's collapse. "Station Eleven" was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction Literature.

Mandel's subsequent novels include "The Lola Quartet" (2012), a literary mystery exploring themes of music and memory, and "The Glass Hotel" (2020), a haunting tale of greed, guilt, and the interconnectedness of lives.

In addition to her novels, Mandel has written essays and articles for various publications, including The New York Times, The Guardian, and National Public Radio (NPR). She is known for her lyrical prose, complex characters, and thought-provoking exploration of themes such as memory, identity, and the human condition.

Emily St. John Mandel currently resides in New York City with her husband and daughter, where she continues to write and engage with readers through her work.


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