9/01/2017 Peter Durantine

Talking with Author Emily St. John Mandel

Peter Merani was halfway through Emily St. John Mandel’s postapocalyptic 2014 novel, “Station Eleven,” when the Franklin & Marshall College senior felt the need to share St. John Mandel’s literary insights with fellow students.

“I never read a writer before that got inside my head and thoughts exactly the way she does,” Merani said. “I share her worldview and the way she thinks about people.”

With the help of event coordinator Alex Faccibene ’16 at the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House, Merani negotiated with Mandel’s agent to visit F&M Sept. 13 for a conversation at the Writers House followed by a reading.

“Peter Merani was the mastermind behind Mandel’s visit, absolutely!” said Kerry Sherin Wright, director of the Writers House. 

The science-fiction writer is expected to read from her award-winning novel, “Station Eleven,” about a Shakespearean theatre troupe and symphony that roams the Great Lakes region two decades after a swine-flu pandemic killed all but a handful of the world’s population.

The author grew up on Denman Island, located in a remote region of British Columbia where about 1,000 people reside on 19 square miles of land that can only be reached ferry.

She left home and studied dance in Toronto, briefly stayed in Montreal, and finally relocated to New York City, where the 38-year-old wrote “Station Eleven,” one of four novels she has published since 2009.

In a 2016 PBS Book View Now interview, Mandel explained how she approached her end-of-the-world novel.

“I really wanted to write about the world we live in now, about modernity, in a broader sense, and it seemed to me that way to write about the modern world is to write about its absence,” she said. “What does the world look like when there’s no more telecommunications, no more internet, no more telephones, no more electricity, no more airplanes?”

Mandel also writes mysteries. A previous novel, “The Singer’s Gun,” won the 2014 Prix Mysteries de la Critique in France. Anthologies of her short fiction and essay include Best American Mystery Short Stories 2013.

Emily St. John Mandel visits the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House, 633 College Ave., on Sept. 13. A question-and-answer discussion begins at 4:30 p.m. and her reading starts at 7:30 p.m.

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