Every semester, we pick book(s) to complement the shows in our season – it’s a cross-genre take on comparative literature. Whether or not you have a chance to see this season’s shows at NYU Skirball, you can pick up the book and join us via Zoom for an informal discussion.

This spring, we’re focusing on one text: Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven

How does it work? RSVP with your e-mail address so we can send you the Zoom link on the day of the event, along with some preliminary discussion prompts. After a brief introduction, we will have an informal, moderated conversation – participation is encouraged! Need a copy of the book? Order a copy from our list, and NYU Skirball will receive a portion of the proceeds.


An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse—the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.

What was lost in the collapse: almost everything, almost everyone, but there is still such beauty. Twilight in the altered world, a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a parking lot in the mysteriously named town of St. Deborah by the Water, Lake Michigan shining half a mile away. Kirsten as Titania, a crown of flowers on her close-cropped hair, the jagged scar on her cheekbone half-erased by candlelight. The audience is silent.

Lines of a play written in 1594, the year London’s theatres reopened after two seasons of plague. … Plague closed the theatres again and again, death flickering over the landscape. And now in a twilight once more lit by candles, the age of electricity having come and gone, Titania turns to face her fairy king.

All three caravans of the Traveling Symphony are labeled as such, THE TRAVELING SYMPHONY lettered in white on both sides, but the lead caravan carries an additional line of text: Because survival is insufficient. 

– from Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel


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.


This spring, starting with the Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Twelfth Night, and ending with Philip Glass & Improbable’s Tao of Glass, NYU Skirball’s season also asks us to think about what live performance means to us now, in the wake of our own global pandemic(s), with its lingering effects on our ability to gather together, to make and share art. What has changed? What hasn’t changed? What can we change?