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1. The novel opens with a passage by Czeslaw Milosz. What does it mean? Why did Mandel choose it to introduce Station Eleven?
2. What is the metaphor of the Station Eleven comic books? How does the Undersea connect to the events of the novel?
3. “Survival is insufficient,” a line from Star Trek: Voyager, is the Traveling Symphony’s motto. What does it mean to them? Does it hold true for you? What role does art play in society?
4. Certain items turn up again and again, such as the comic books and the paperweight — things Arthur gave away before he died because he didn’t want any more possessions. And Clark’s Museum of Civilization turns what we think of as mundane belongings into totems worthy of study. What point is Mandel making? What items do you think you’d strive to preserve?
5. Throughout the novel, those who were alive during the time before the flu remember specific things about those days: the ease of electricity, the taste of an orange. In their place, what do you think you’d remember most?
6. What do you imagine the Traveling Symphony will find when they reach the brightly lit town to the south?
Discussion Questions for Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel provided courtesy of Vintage Books.
St. John’s my middle name. The books go under M.
Emily St. John Mandel is the author of six novels, most recently Sea of Tranquility. Her previous novels include The Glass Hotel, which was selected by President Barack Obama as one of his favourite books of 2020, was shortlisted for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, and has been translated into 23 languages; and Station Eleven, which was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, won the 2015 Arthur C. Clarke Award among other honours, has been translated into 36 languages, and aired as a limited series on HBO Max. She lives in New York City and Los Angeles.