Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (2015, Vintage; 352 pages)
This is a gorgeous and unsettling book, a haunting portrait of life at the edge in a post-apocalyptic world where some humans try to preserve art, culture and kindness while defending their lives from other human predators.
Arthur Leander, a famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack onstage during a production of King Lear. Kirsten Raymonde was there when that happened. She never forgot that night, not only for that event but because it was also the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city. A few weeks later, civilization as we know it came to an end.
We move forward 20 years and we find Kirsten traveling between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of musicians and actors. They are the Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But one day they encounter a violent prophet that will threaten the band's existence.
With action that moves between the old and new world, the author draws connections between the characters and their pasts. This is a book about many things, but above all, about the value of friendship, love and art -- values that do not become obsolete. The writing is beautiful and lyrical, an apocalyptic story that can almost read like a long poem. It is, of course, a book that is hard to put down and one of those readings that reminds you with each page of our mortal condition, and the privileges we enjoy without even realizing it. Great reading for winter evenings in Alaska.
Find this title in our catalog: Station Eleven
Recommended by: Maite