Articles by Emily St. John Mandel

November 29, 2012

A Younger, Stranger America: On Harry Houdini’s The Right Way to Do Wrong 0

The collection functions as a glimpse into a fascinating world of low-rent, high-risk stunt performing that’s largely faded away.

November 27, 2012

Invisible Borders: Mohsin Hamid’s Moth Smoke 0

Hamid’s first novel, recently re-released, was published not long after Pakistan tested its first nuclear weapons, and the arms race between Pakistan and India form the jittery backdrop to a harrowing story of a man’s descent.

October 18, 2012

Back in the USSR: On Maurice DeKobra’s The Madonna of the Sleeping Cars 0

This is the kind of book that gets described as “a delightful romp” in press materials, and that’s not an inaccurate description of a book that functions beautifully as both send-up of high society and globe-spanning adventure story, but the novel has a deathly serious core.

October 15, 2012

Strange Long Dream: Justin Cronin’s The Twelve 3

Once again Cronin has superbly handled the difficult task of writing a character-driven adventure story. The vampires remain terrifying, but they’re arguably less terrifying than the humans who have decided to collaborate with them in order to survive.

October 4, 2012

Susanna Moore, Cheryl Strayed, and the Place Where the Writers Work 8

What matters is good writing, what matters is that there are people who love books enough to press them into your hands in far-off cities. We are here for the books, but I think it’s easy to get distracted by our longing for success and forget this.

September 6, 2012

Eating Dirt: On Charlotte Gill and the Life of the Treeplanter 2

Gill’s stories are fascinating, but she is possessed of that rarest of attributes among memoirists: an understanding of her own story as only a part of a broader picture, a willingness to broaden the focus beyond the particulars of her personal experience.

September 4, 2012

Disorientation: A Reading List 10

“Do you believe,” the journalist asked, “or fear, that the world is a mirage, or a hoax?”

August 21, 2012

Everything is a Question: Jorge Amado’s The Double Death of Quincas Water-Bray 11

Is he alive, or is he dead? There are moments in this very funny, very ghoulish novella when he seems definitely one or the other; other moments when he might somehow be both. He’s roughly the fictional equivalent of Schrödinger’s cat.

July 31, 2012

Staff Pick: Saul Bellow’s The Bellarosa Connection 2

Do the ones who save us owe us anything? The Bellarosa Connection is fascinating as a study of memory and regret.

June 26, 2012

Dispatches from an Opium Den: Jeet Thayil’s Narcopolis 1

Jeet Thayil’s debut novel is an unsettling portrait of a seething city, a beautifully-written meditation on addiction, sex, friendship, dreams, and murder.