Emily St. John Mandel on time travel, destiny and what might have been

A book cover and a photo of a person side by side.
Emily St. John Mandel’s previous novels include “The Glass Hotel” and “Station Eleven,” which was a finalist for a National Book Award and was made into an HBO Max series of the same name. Her new book is “Sea of Tranquility.”
Courtesy of publisher and by Sarah Shatz

In 2014, after years of writing in relative obscurity, Emily St. John Mandel published a breakaway novel. “Station Eleven” was a huge hit, selling more than 1.5 million copies and receiving critical acclaim. It was even made into a television series by HBO Max.

Eerily enough, “Station Eleven” was set in a world confronting a global pandemic. Her new novel, “Sea of Tranquility,” is also set in the future — and the past — thanks to a time-traveling narrative the weaves together five centuries across space and time.

This Friday, as part of the Big Books and Bold Ideas conversation, MPR News host Kerri Miller stepped into the void with Mandel. They talk about the folly of time travel, how hinge moments are often recognized only in hindsight, and the constant contingency of living. Who would we be if we weren’t ourselves?


To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

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