Author: Emily St. John Mandel
Genre: Literary Fiction
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, 2014
Hardcover edition: 333 pages
Source: Library copy
This imaginative, inventive book is a winner of many awards and a finalist for the National Book Award. Impossible to categorize, it dances across genre lines. Some call it science fiction as it colors in a future world changed by a pandemic causing the collapse of our world as we know it. A surviving troupe of traveling musicians and Shakespearean actors move through parts of Michigan entertaining others and surviving.
The author tells her story in scenes that travel between time and place in a most interesting, and always understandable way. To my mind, one of the genius aspects of this novel is the ease, connectedness and clarity she achieves as she tells this story of different people from and in different places at different times. Any reader will be convinced of the connectedness of human beings.
In an interview posted at the National Book Organization internet site, the author said she thinks of the book as a requiem to the amazing world we live in and enjoy (my paraphrase). The story is like a beautiful piece of music.
It addresses the role of art in our lives and as part of a sustainable future. For the first time, (I’m ashamed to admit) I am willing to climb to the top of the battlement and wave a flag for the importance of art in education and community. I mean that I feel its necessity with a passion that was perhaps lacking before.
The author’s attention to story, character and construction come together in beautiful prose. The experience of reading this book is a true blessing. When I come to the close of this wonderful tale, it seems clear that questioning humanness and civilization provides no easy answers.
My rating: 4 Stars. Don’t miss it.