I am a fan of her two latest novels Station Eleven (about a post-pandemic world) and The Glass Hotel, and many other smart people like them too. Here is the audio and transcript. Here is the CWTeam summary:
She joined Tyler to discuss The Glass Hotel, including why more white-collar criminals don’t flee before arrest, the Post Secret postcard that haunts her most, the best places to hide from the Russian mob, the Canadian equivalent of the “Florida Man”, whether trophy wives are happy, how to slow down time, why she disagrees with Kafka on reading, the safest place to be during a global pandemic, how to get away with faking your own death, how A Canticle for Leibowitz influenced her writing, the permeability of moral borders, what surprised her about experiencing a real pandemic, how her background in contemporary dance makes her a better writer, adapting The Glass Hotel for a miniseries, her contrarian take on Frozen II, and more.
By the way, I would fake my own death by going on a cargo vessel and bribing them to claim I fell overboard. Here is one bit about the pandemic:
COWEN: Have people been more or less cooperative than you had thought?
ST. JOHN MANDEL: My impression — and the problem is, we don’t see people anymore — but my overall impression is they’ve been more cooperative.
Definitely in the literary community, I’ve seen a lot of people really trying to support their independent bookstores, which has always been a thing. But I think there’s been a greater awareness that if you don’t buy your books from your independent bookstore — and by the way, they do all sell online mostly — then that store might not be there when all of this ends. So I see people pulling together like that, to try to support the businesses they love. That’s been a major one.
I wish I could see people and bring back a report from actual humanity, [laughs] but that is my impression. There’s been more cooperation.
COWEN: In so many postapocalyptic novels, it seems that people wander a lot. Do they wander too much? Should they just stay put?
ST. JOHN MANDEL: I had this conversation with another postapocalyptic novelist. Would everybody stop walking? Why is everybody wandering endlessly in a postapocalypse?
COWEN: How good is Frozen II, if I may ask?
ST. JOHN MANDEL: It’s pretty good.
COWEN: Pretty good?
ST. JOHN MANDEL: Yeah. This is a controversial statement. I know a lot of parents who hate it, but I find it more interesting than Frozen I.
Perhaps I like The Glass Hotel a wee bit better than Station Eleven, but maybe Station Eleven is better to read first?