From Melissa: Station Eleven

Friend number two! Meet Melissa Faulner, Assistant Editor at Dutton Children’s Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers. Melissa started in publishing at Penguin in 2010 after working in higher ed administration. After abandoning Penguin for a stint at Abrams, she returned to her publishing stomping grounds in 2013 and has been happily ensconced at Dutton ever since. John Green follows her on Twitter, and so can you. Here’s Melissa:

9780385353304These days, if you happen to spend more than five minutes talking to me, you’ll probably be subjected to one of three topics: the drawbacks/benefits of shortening in all-butter pie crust recipes (hint: 50/50 ratio); “Oh my gosh, how are you not listening to Serial?”; and finally, a recommendation to read Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. That said, I’ll admit that despite its status as a National Book Award finalist, and all the buzz it received throughout the fall, it wasn’t until I read a relatively recent New Yorker article, reviving the ages old debate about the role and definition of genre fiction, that I became fully aware of (and slightly obsessed with) it.

Because—and here’s the thing that really grabbed me—Station Eleven isn’t just a book about the post-apocalyptic landscape of the world, it’s about how that apocalypse actually happened. Switching seamlessly between past, present, and future narratives, it’s the stories of the people who live and die when a deadly strain of flu virus efficiently wipes out most of the world’s population within a matter of weeks. As someone who works in children’s books, and so has read an excessive amount of dystopian fiction, this proved an intensely fascinating premise: to actually see how the world ended.

Station Eleven is filled with moments of stark realness and sentiment, while depicting the best and worst aspects of our own humanity. But mostly, it’s a love letter to the persistence and indefatigable spirit of art and storytelling, which not only survives the collapse of civilization, but continues to make life worth living. As the New Yorker explains, “Unlike Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, which asked what would remain after the collapse of culture, Station Eleven asks how culture gets put together again.” Because, to pull an oft-used quote from the book (and Star Trek: Voyager), survival is insufficient.

[I made an executive decision on Melissa’s behalf to link to Posman Books, because I know the fact that they’re closing their Grand Central location basically ruins her life. But their website, while lovely, is basically useless. So those links go to Indiebound.—Dana]

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