Author Finds Value in Critiquing, Writing Fiction; Emily St. John Mandel's "Station Eleven" (Vintage Books, $15.95) Was Reviewed and Critiqued as a Post-Apocalyptic Novel. Never Mind That It Had Other Elements -- Including Literary and Mystery Fiction -- Embedded in Its Narrative. [Derived Headline]

By Behe, Rege | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, February 13, 2016 | Go to article overview

Author Finds Value in Critiquing, Writing Fiction; Emily St. John Mandel's "Station Eleven" (Vintage Books, $15.95) Was Reviewed and Critiqued as a Post-Apocalyptic Novel. Never Mind That It Had Other Elements -- Including Literary and Mystery Fiction -- Embedded in Its Narrative. [Derived Headline]


Behe, Rege, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Emily St. John Mandel's "Station Eleven" (Vintage Books, $15.95) was reviewed and critiqued as a post-apocalyptic novel. Never mind that it had other elements -- including literary and mystery fiction -- embedded in its narrative.

Mandel, who appears Feb. 15 as a guest of Pittsburgh Arts & Lecture Literary Evenings, would prefer to define her work as fiction without modifiers. But she's cognizant of a "tedious mania" for classification of all things, including literature.

"Of course, a book can be more than one genre," Mandel says, referencing a recent essay by Joshua Roth in The New Yorker that suggested books need not have a single defining element. "I find that to be a more expansive and generous way of looking at the genre question than this binary either/or habit we tend to fall into."

"Station Eleven," which earned Mandel nominations for National Book and PEN/Faulkner awards in 2014, is about a traveling band of artists and musicians who roam between settlements in the aftermath of a flu pandemic. One of the themes Mandel explores is the necessity of the arts, even in the direst of circumstances.

In an age when so many things vie for attention and social media consumes an inordinate amount of time, the New York-based writer thinks art commands attention.

"As an example, I've largely turned away from social media for the moment, but I do maintain a Tumblr account," Mandel says, "largely because I use Tumblr to look at beautiful things. I follow a very small number of people, and they're mostly people who use Tumblr to post images of spectacular architecture, or nature photography or vintage illustrations or paintings.

"I'm convinced that there's still a robust audience for art in the extremely distracted world in which we find ourselves."

Mandel's self-imposed exile from social media has its benefits, one of them being anonymity. …

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Author Finds Value in Critiquing, Writing Fiction; Emily St. John Mandel's "Station Eleven" (Vintage Books, $15.95) Was Reviewed and Critiqued as a Post-Apocalyptic Novel. Never Mind That It Had Other Elements -- Including Literary and Mystery Fiction -- Embedded in Its Narrative. [Derived Headline]
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