Articles by Emily St. John Mandel

September 28, 2011

Very Bad Things: A Pessimistic Reading List 15

Troubling works of fiction for troubled times.

September 16, 2011

Staff Pick: Kenneth Fearing’s The Big Clock 0

In Kenneth Fearing’s 1946 noir novel, a Manhattan writer is given the unenviable task of tracking himself down.

September 2, 2011

Irène Némirovsky, Suite Française, and The Mirador 1

Notes on the French novelist Irène Némirovsky, her “violent masterpiece” Suite Française, and the imaginary memoir written by her daughter.

August 29, 2011

Staff Pick: Daniele Mastrogiacomo’s Days of Fear 1

In the spring of 2007, the Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo arrived in Afghanistan. He was there to conduct an interview with a Taliban commander, but the promised interview was a trap.

August 5, 2011

A Surrealist’s Guide: Christopher Boucher’s How To Keep Your Volkswagen Alive 3

Christopher Boucher’s strange and dazzling debut novel concerns a young man whose girlfriend gives birth to a 1971 Volkswagen Beetle.

July 22, 2011

The Second Life of Irmgard Keun 8

The German novelist Irmgard Keun’s life was the stuff of fiction: she was a best-selling debut novelist at twenty-six, published a second bestseller a year later, was blacklisted by the Nazi regime and in exile by the spring of 1936. She was possessed of a spectacular talent. She managed to convey the political horrors she lived through with the lightest possible touch, even flashes of humor.

June 27, 2011

The Beauty I Long For: Maira Kalman and the Principles of Uncertainty 4

Her books are quirky, deeply moving, and beautiful documents of life on earth. She considers Spinoza, George Washington, fruit platters, her dog, the nature of war. If this sounds incoherent, it isn’t. “I am trying to figure out two very simple things,” she said once at a TED conference. “How to live, and how to die. Period. That’s all I’m trying to do, all day long.”

May 26, 2011

Under Water: Johanna Skibsrud’s The Sentimentalists 0

The story that surrounds Johanna Skibsrud’s first novel is captivating. The Sentimentalists, published by Canada’s tiny Gaspereau Press in an initial print run of 800, was the surprise winner of the 2010 Scotiabank Giller Prize. And yet hype, of course, is a double-edged sword.

May 18, 2011

Migrations: A Reading List 6

Migration in its various forms is at the heart of a great many of my favorite plots in fiction. But beyond that it seems to me that migration, as an idea of motion, is inextricable from good fiction. Your characters must change—they must move, psychically at least, from point A to point B—and the plot must move forward.

April 28, 2011

A Guest in the Night City 1

If the night city is a territory, Nightshift NYC stands as an essential guide.