Emily St. John Mandel was born on Vancouver Island and raised mostly on Denman Island, a small, bucolic island off the coast of British Columbia, Canada. Known for its natural beauty, laid-back feel, and thriving arts community, the island is home to just over 1,000 inhabitants. Mandel's father emigrated from the United States and worked on the island as a plumber; her Canadian mother works for an organization that assists victims of domestic violence and is active in the labor movement. Both loved to read and—for no reason other than to provide the best education they could—they homeschooled Mandel, encouraging her to write every day.
Like many teenagers, she also watched television. The island only had two channels, so options were limited, which meant she watched a fair amount of Star Trek: Voyager. It's where she first heard Seven of Nine say "survival is insufficient" in an episode in 1999—a phrase she wholeheartedly believes and that readers can find on the side of the traveling group's caravan in Station Eleven.
In 2014, Mandel published Station Eleven, her fourth novel, with Knopf and her writing career took off at rocket speed. The novel won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, was a finalist for the National Book Award and PEN/Faulkner Award, was an Amazon Best Book of the Month, was named one of the best books of the year by more than a dozen publications, and has been translated into 27 languages.
Emily St. John Mandel's novel, Station Eleven, is the subject of Knox County Public Library's 2017 Big Read.