The Glass Hotel
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: THE NEW YORKER • NPR • TIME • THE WASHINGTON POST• THE BBC • THE ECONOMIST • HUFFPOST • THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY
From the award-winning author of Station Eleven, an exhilarating novel set at the glittering intersection of two seemingly disparate events--a massive Ponzi scheme collapse and the mysterious disappearance of a woman from a ship at sea.
Vincent is a bartender at the Hotel Caiette, a five-star lodging on the northernmost tip of Vancouver Island. On the night she meets Jonathan Alkaitis, a hooded figure scrawls a message on the lobby's glass wall: Why don’t you swallow broken glass. High above Manhattan, a greater crime is committed: Alkaitis is running an international Ponzi scheme, moving imaginary sums of money through clients’ accounts. When the financial empire collapses, it obliterates countless fortunes and devastates lives. Vincent, who had been posing as Jonathan’s wife, walks away into the night. Years later, a victim of the fraud is hired to investigate a strange occurrence: a woman has seemingly vanished from the deck of a container ship between ports of call.
In this captivating story of crisis and survival, Emily St. John Mandel takes readers through often hidden landscapes: campgrounds for the near-homeless, underground electronica clubs, the business of international shipping, service in luxury hotels, and life in a federal prison. Rife with unexpected beauty, The Glass Hotel is a captivating portrait of greed and guilt, love and delusion, ghosts and unintended consequences, and the infinite ways we search for meaning in our lives."The question of what is real—be it love, money, place or memory—has always been at the heart of Ms. Mandel’s fiction... her narratives snake their way across treacherous, shifting terrain. Certainties are blurred, truth becomes malleable and in The Glass Hotel the con man thrives... Lyrical, hypnotic images... suspend us in a kind of hallucinatory present where every detail is sharply defined yet queasily unreliable. A sense of unease thickens... Ms. Mandel invites us to observe her characters from a distance even as we enter their lives, a feat she achieves with remarkable skill. And if the result is a sense not only of detachment but also of desolation, then maybe that’s the point." —Anna Mundow, Wall Street Journal
“A striking book that's every bit as powerful — and timely — as its predecessor… In Vincent and Paul, Mandel has created two of the most memorable characters in recent American fiction… Mandel's writing shines throughout the book, just as it did in Station Eleven. She's not a showy writer, but an unerringly graceful one, and she treats her characters with compassion but not pity. The Glass Hotel is a masterpiece, just as good — if not better — than its predecessor. It's a stunning look at how people react to disasters, both small and large, and the temptation that some have to give up when faced with tragedy.” —Michael Shaub, NPR
"Though its characters were inspired by Bernie Madoff, his victims, and his enablers, there’s much more to this novel than ripped-from-the-headlines voyeurism; it’s a gorgeously constructed tapestry, each jewellike sentence building to one of the most devastating, moving endings in recent memory. I read it when I was feeling uniquely exhausted by the demands of COVID-era living; I still couldn’t put it down."—Vanity Fair
"Mandel’s gift is to weave realism out of extremity. She plants her flag where the ordinary and the astonishing meet, where everyday people pause to wonder how, exactly, it came to this. She is our bard of waking up in the wrong time line... One effect of Mandel’s book is to underscore the seemingly infinite paths a person might travel... There is a suggestion, toward the end of The Glass Hotel, that frequent commerce with the dead (or the imaginary) might reconnect us to the living... Perhaps it is with this in mind that Mandel has constructed a fantasy for our temporary habitation. Her story offers escape, but the kind that depends on and is inseparable from the world beyond it."—Katy Waldman, The New Yorker