So I liked Station Eleven quite a bit, which made picking up Emily St. John Mandel’s The Glass Hotel an easy call. But so, in my write-up of that earlier book, I mentioned that it wasn’t really an apocalypse/post-apocalypse novel, it was “one of those literary novels that tells a portrait of a handful of characters over the course of their lives.” And hey, guess what this is doing even more explicitly, and with even less of a fantastic element to it?

So the main thing that happens in the book, the event that the story is wound around in a multi-character, time-jumping sort of way, is the unwinding of a Ponzi scheme that’s explicitly based on the Bernie Madoff scandal. There’s more to it than just that, because you don’t make rich, layered character portraits out of just a single event, but that’s the really big thing.

It’s well-written and affecting, mostly with a kind of melancholic mood. Recommended if you liked Station Eleven for its literary qualities, which this also has; disrecommended if you liked it for its apocalypse, which it doesn’t.


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