The Glass Hotel

Knopf. Mar. 2020. 320p. ISBN 9780525521143. $26.95. F
This latest novel from the author of the hugely successful Station Eleven forgoes a postapocalyptic vision for something far scarier—the bottomless insecurity of contemporary life. One of Mandel’s main characters, a twentysomething young woman from British Columbia with the unusual name of Vincent, is orphaned and unmoored. Through a bartending job at a remote destination hotel off Vancouver Island, she meets and takes up with Jonathan Alkaitis, a Bernie Madoff–like character who owns the hotel. Posing as his wife in New York, Vincent has few illusions about the world of money in which she finds herself. When Alkaitis’s Ponzi scheme collapses, she walks away initially unscathed and signs on as a cook on a container ship. And that’s only one thread in the plot; numerous characters slip in and out of this affluent world, wrestling with financial loss, drug addiction, or sibling guilt. We even find a couple of characters from Station Eleven, alive and well and in the shipping business.
VERDICT Highly recommended; with superb writing and an intricately connected plot that ticks along like clockwork, Mandel offers an unnerving critique of the twinned modern plagues of income inequality and cynical opportunism. [See Prepub Alert, 9/9/19.]
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