Emily St. John Mandel

Canadian writer

Emily St. John Mandel (born 1979) is a Canadian novelist.

Emily St. John Mandel, 2015


All page numbers from the hardcover first edition, fourth printing (September 2014) published by Alfred A. Knopf
Won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award; nominated for the 2015 John W. Campbell Memorial Award.
  • The horse, Bernstein, was missing half his tail, because the first cello had just restrung his bow last week.
    • Chapter 7 (p. 36)
  • “Hell is other actors,” Kirsten said. “Also ex-boyfriends.”
    • Chapter 10 (p. 49)
  • The journalist is beautiful in the manner of people who spend an immense amount of money on personal maintenance. She has professionally refined pores and a four-hundred-dollar haircut, impeccable makeup and tastefully polished nails. When she smiles, Arthur is distracted by the unnatural whiteness of her teeth, although he’s been in Hollywood for years and should be used to it by now.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 72)
  • It’s possible that no one who didn’t grow up in a small place can understand how beautiful this is, how the anonymity of city life feels like freedom.
    • Chapter 13 (p. 78)
  • She is beautiful in a way that makes people forget what they were going to say when they look at her.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 91)
  • Tesch seems to be someone who mistakes rudeness for intellectual rigor.
    • Chapter 15 (p. 93)
  • Miranda is aware of how pretentious this sounds, but is it still pretentious if it’s true?
    • Chapter 15 (p. 95)
  • “Why would he marry a twelve-year-old?”
    “He had a dream where God told him he was to repopulate the earth.”
    “Of course he did,” the clarinet said. “Don’t they all have dreams like that?”
    “Right, I always thought that was a prerequisite for being a prophet,” Sayid said.
    • Chapter 19 (p. 123)
  • “They call themselves the light.”
    “What about it?”
    “If you are the light,” she said, “then your enemies are darkness, right?”
    “I suppose.”
    “If you are the light, if your enemies are darkness, then there’s nothing that you cannot justify. There’s nothing you can’t survive, because there’s nothing that you will not do.”
    • Chapter 23 (p. 139)
  • Hell is the absence of the people you long for.
    • Chapter 23 (p. 144)
  • Twenty-third Street wasn’t busy—a little early for the lunch crowd—but he kept getting trapped behind iPhone zombies, people half his age who wandered in a dream with their eyes fixed on their screens.
    • Chapter 26 (p. 160)
  • “I’m a man of my word,” Jeevan said. At that point in his directionless life he wasn’t sure if this was true or not, but it was nice to think that it might be.
    • Chapter 27 (p. 171)
  • Frank standing on a stool on his wondrously functional pre-Libya legs, the bullet that would sever his spinal cord still twenty-five years away but already approaching: a woman giving birth to a child who will someday pull the trigger on a gun, a designer sketching the weapon or its precursor, a dictator making a decision that will spark in the fullness of time into the conflagration that Frank will go overseas to cover for Reuters, the pieces of a pattern drifting closer together.
    • Chapter 36 (p. 191)
  • “I just want them to know that it happened for a reason.”
    “Look, Tyler, some things just happen.” This close, the stillness of the ghost plane was overwhelming.
    “But why did they die instead of us?” the boy asked, with an air of patiently reciting a well-rehearsed argument. His gaze was unblinking.
    “Because they were exposed to a certain virus, and we weren’t. You can look for reasons, and god knows a few people here have driven themselves half-crazy trying, but Tyler, that’s all there is.”
    “What if we were saved for a different reason?”
    “Saved?” Clark was remembering why he didn’t talk to Tyler very often.
    “Some people were saved. People like us.”
    “What do you mean, ‘people like us’?”
    “People who were good,” Tyler said.”People who weren’t weak.”
    “Look, it’s not a question of having been bad or...the people in there, in the Air Gradia jet, they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time.”
    • Chapter 44 (pp. 259-260)
  • She tried to keep this opinion to herself and occasionally succeeded.
    • Chapter 49 (p. 288)
  • He found he was a man who repented almost everything, regrets crowding in around him like moths to a light. This was actually the main difference between twenty-one and fifty-one, he decided, the sheer volume of regret.
    • Chapter 53 (p. 327)
All page numbers from the hardcover first edition, first printing, published by Alfred A. Knopf, ISBN 978-0-593-32144-7
  • Sometimes you don’t know you’re going to throw a grenade until you’ve already pulled the pin.
    • Part 1,”Remittance / 1912” Chapter 4 (p. 14)
  • If there’s pleasure in action, there’s peace in stillness.
    • Part 1, Chapter 5 (p. 23)
  • This whole place is death. No, that’s unfair—this place isn’t death, this place is indifference. This place is utterly neutral on the question of whether he lives or dies; it doesn’t care about his last name or where he went to school; it hasn’t even noticed him.
    • Part 1, Chapter 6 (p. 26)
  • “My secret is, I hate people,” the woman said, very sincerely, and for the first time Mirella liked her.
    “All people?”
    “All except maybe like three,” she said.
    • Part 2, “Mirella and Vincent / 2020” Chapter 3 (pp. 61-62)
  • What is time travel if not a security problem?
    • Part 3, “Last Book Tour on Earth / 2203” (p. 86)
  • Everything offended Jessica, which is inevitable when you move through the world in search of offense.
    • Part 3 (p. 93)
  • “You know the phrase I keep thinking about?” a poet asked, on a different panel, at a festival in Copenhagen. “‘The chickens are coming home to roost.’ Because it’s never good chickens. It’s never ‘You’ve been a good person and now your chickens are coming home to roost.’ It’s never good chickens. It’s always bad chickens.”
    • Part 3 (p. 95)
  • Isn’t that reality? Won’t most of us die in fairly unclimactic ways, our passing unremarked by almost everyone, our deaths becoming plot points in the narratives of the people around us?
    • Part 3 (pp. 96-97)
  • She never dwelt on my lapses, and I couldn’t entirely parse why this made me feel so awful. There’s a low-level, specific pain in having to accept that putting up with you requires a certain generosity of spirit in your loved ones.
    • Part 4, “Bad Chickens / 2401” Chapter 3 (p. 116)
  • There occurred an incident that struck me at the time as some kind of supernatural event, but seems to me in retrospect to have been perhaps some kind of fit.
    • Part 4, Chapter 3 (p. 126)
  • I would rather do a dangerous job than a job that makes me comatose with boredom.
    • Part 4, Chapter 6 (p. 146)
  • What you have to understand is that bureaucracy is an organism, and the prime goal of every organism is self-protection. Bureaucracy exists to protect itself.
    • Part 4, Chapter 7 (p. 151)
  • It’s shocking to wake up in one world and find yourself in another by nightfall, but the situation isn’t actually all that unusual. You wake up married, then your spouse dies over the course of the day; you wake up in peacetime and by noon your country is at war; you wake up in ignorance and by the evening it’s clear that a pandemic is already here.
    • Part 5, “Last Book Tour on Earth / 2203” (pp. 173-174)
  • “Maybe you’re right. Turns out reality is more important than we thought,” Dion said.
    • Part 5 (p. 182)
  • My point is, there’s always something. I think, as a species, we have a desire to believe that we’re living at the climax of the story. It’s a kind of narcissism. We want to believe that we’re uniquely important, that we’re living at the end of history, that now, after all these millennia of false alarms, now is finally the worst that it’s ever been, that finally we have reached the end of the world.
    • Part 5 (p. 189)
  • “But all of this raises an interesting question,” Olive said. “What if it always is the end of the world?”
    She paused for effect. Before her, the holographic audience was almost perfectly still. “Because we might reasonably think of the end of the world,” Olive said, “as a continuous and never-ending process.”
    • Part 5 (p. 190)
  • If definitive proof emerges that we’re living in a simulation, the correct response to that news will be So what. A life lived in a simulation is still a life.
    • Part 8, “Anomaly” Chapter 8 (p. 246)
Wikipedia has an article about: