Emily St. John Mandel is one of my favorite writers. Her rare sci-fi gem, “Station Eleven” is one of the best books I’ve read in recent memory.
“The Singer’s Gun” she wrote years before “Station Eleven” (first published in 2009) features her stylized writing and engrossing descriptions of commonplace items and activities.
This novel is the story of a family and the corrupt practices they employ to earn a living in the US. Anton Waker is the son of parents who sell stolen goods in their Brooklyn store. His cousin Aria gets him involved in a business selling fake social security cards and forged passports. His “out” to a better life as a businessman and corporate executive involved a plan imitate a man with a Harvard degree with the same name as him. He calls up Harvard and gets a copy of the other man’s diploma. But what happens if his secret gets out. What would Anton do for the sake of family? How far is he willing to go to maintain the façade?
Ms. St. John Mandel’s use of stream of consciousness and interweaving stories creates a dazzling web of mystery to work out in this book. I thoroughly enjoyed her character development and how she sets the scene of Anton’s background, his office in New York, and the other various locales the characters move around in. She has a unique way of transporting readers into places you only hear of or dream of being.
I really enjoyed this book. It was everything a well-written novel should be.