Check Out
The Bestselling Books of All Time
See the List

The Glass Hotel

Best Seller
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel
Hardcover $26.95
Mar 24, 2020 | ISBN 9780525521143

Also available from:

See All Formats (4) +
  • Paperback $29.00
    $29.00

    Mar 24, 2020 | ISBN 9780593171738

    Also available from:

  • Hardcover $26.95
    $26.95

    Mar 24, 2020 | ISBN 9780525521143

    Also available from:

  • Ebook $13.99

    Mar 24, 2020 | ISBN 9780525521150

    Available from:

Buy the Audiobook Download:

Listen to a sample from The Glass Hotel

Product Details

Praise

“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

“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

“[This] novel [is] so absorbing, so fully realized that it draws you out of your own constricted situation and expands your sense of possibilities. For me, over the past 10 days or so, the novel that’s performed that act of deliverance… it’s “straight” literary fiction, gorgeous and haunting, about the porous boundaries between past and present, the rich and the poor, and the realms of the living and the dead… This all-encompassing awareness of the mutability of life grows more pronounced as The Glass Hotel reaches its eerie sea change of an ending. In dramatizing so ingeniously how precarious and changeable everything is, Mandel’s novel is topical in a way she couldn’t have foreseen when she was writing it.”—Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air

 “A wondrously entertaining novel… The Glass Hotel is never dull. Tracing the permutations of its characters’ lives, from depressing apartments in bad neighborhoods to posh Dubai resorts to Manhattan bars, Colorado campgrounds, and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is like following the intricate patterns on Moroccan tiles. The pleasure, which in the case of The Glass Hotel is abundant, lies in the patterns themselves… This is a type of art that closely approximates life, and a remarkable accomplishment for Mandel… This novel invites you to inhabit it without striving or urging; it’s a place to be, always fiction’s most welcome effect.”—Laura Miller, Slate

The Glass Hotel may be the perfect novel for your survival bunker… Freshly mysterious… Mandel is a consummate, almost profligate world builder. One superbly developed setting gives way to the next, as her attention winds from character to character, resting long enough to explore the peculiar mechanics of each life before slipping over to the next… That Mandel manages to cover so much, so deeply is the abiding mystery of this book. The 300 pages of The Glass Hotel work harder than most 600-page novels… The disappointment of leaving one story is immediately quelled by our fascination in the next… The complex, troubled people who inhabit Mandel’s novel are vexed and haunted by their failings, driven to create ever more pleasant reflections of themselves in the glass.”—Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“An eerie, compelling follow-up… not your grandmother’s Agatha Christie murder mystery or haunted hotel ghost story… The novel’s ongoing sense of haunting extends well beyond its ghosts… The ghosts in  The Glass Hotel are directly connected to its secrets and scandals, which mirror those of our time… Like all Mandel’s novels, The Glass Hotel is flawlessly constructed… The Glass Hotel declares the world to be as bleak as it is beautiful, just like this novel.”—Rebecca Steinitz, The Boston Globe

“Another gripping tale of interconnected lives.”People

“A beguiling tale about skewed morals, reckless lives and necessary means of escape… A sprawling, immersive book… The novel’s scope and brimming vitality are… its strengths.”
The Economist

“Emily St. John Mandel’s storytelling stretches to see into as many windows as possible. Peer closely: characters move between windows, themes reflect and refract… These are not novels weighted by philosophical debates, however, but stories buoyed by serious concerns; Mandel is as dedicated to plotting as she is to characterization… Characters are linked in unexpected directions, within and between books. It’s a joy to pull at the threads and follow their knots and loops… And despite all the glass, there is more conflict than clarity. This makes for compulsively readable novels, carefully crafted page-turners. Don’t just say you’ll visit someday. Call ahead. Make a reservation. Check out the view from The Glass Hotel. Enjoy your stay.”—Marcie McCauley, Chicago Review of Books

“An ephemeral quality permeates the novel… It’s a thrill when the puzzle pieces start to fit together… The final chapter is haunting, taking readers full circle… It’s a sense readers will enjoy as well when they lose themselves in Mandel’s novel.”
Rob Merrill, Associated Press

“Emily St. John Mandel has a knack for explosive openings… Mandel is constructing a sort of multiverse that demonstrates the power of fiction to imagine simultaneous realities.”
—Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic

“Mandel’s characters are crisply drawn, all sharp lines and living color. Everyone in the book is witty…  Taken together, their overlapping stories are gripping, in part because we spend so much time in their heads we have to know how it all turns out and in part because they are all eventually honest with themselves, with the exception of Alkaitis. They all wish they were good people but don’t think they ever will be. Mandel’s books are soulful and subtly philosophical.”—Seth Mandel, Wsahington Examiner

“The Glass Hotel moves backward and forward in time, shifting voice and perspective in a way that helps highlight coincidences and broaden one’s perspective. Readers will enjoy piecing together the fragments and clues that Mandel leaves for them…. Mandel shows, in countless ways, just how tenuous our lives can be, how easily illusions evaporate and relationships dissolve. Her writing is perceptive and expressive, constructing a novel that is simultaneously complex and compelling, worthy of either a slow read or a breathless one.””—Book Reporter

Mandel’s brilliant new novel, The Glass Hotel, is… artful in its time-skipping, globe-hopping immersion in its characters’ lives… It’s a puzzle book… Mandel’s exquisite narratorial juggling is her way of casting light on how we see our lives and attempt to shape them — in retrospect, in anticipation, in our imaginations… Mandel is a marvelous writer… The keenest pleasure of The Glass Hotel is simply in the magic with which it immerses you in the calm, disorienting way that Mandel and her stubborn, enigmatic heroine see the world.”—Michael Upchurch, Seattle Times

What Mandel crafts here is the literary equivalent of Paul Thomas Anderson’s Magnolia,… The rough edges of these connections keep them from feeling too pat, instead creating a world where coincidence is real…  What remains haunting about it is the way it transforms familiar environments into expansive worlds. Mandel’s prose is clean and richly detailed, and she seems to know just the right amount of depth to include in each moment… There’s a deep underlying sadness to The Glass Hotel as a whole, a sense of reflecting on how the end of things is always inevitable. But those emotions come with an accompanying gratitude; while nothing lasts, it was at least with us for a time.”—Liz Shannon Miller, Paste

“Half mist and dreams, this [is a] sophisticated take on the fragility of human connection and the ability to make do with less after the loss of success… Its concern with the sanding of life’s jagged edges remains true to readers’ expectations of Mandel’s incisive vision”Shelf Awareness

“Mandel’s crystal ball and uncanny sense of timing remain intact, with a novel of economic collapse, predatory financial figures and widespread corruption… Simply stunning, a boldly experimental work which hooks the reader from its first pages, wending to a powerfully emotional conclusion… The Glass Hotel is a compulsive read, a commercial crowd-pleaser which will, undoubtedly, find a wide audience. It is also a consummate literary novel, courageous and exciting at a structural level. Books that hit the sweet spot like that are rare to find; we should savour them when we can.—Robert J. Wiersema, The Toronto Star

“The novel proceeds via a series of vignettes set at various points between 1958 and 2029 and ranging around the globe. They gradually knit themselves into a single story in a way that will remind readers of Jennifer Egan’s A Visit From the Goon Squad..This is a strange, ethereal, and very well-written book, so interesting it might actually take your mind off things for a while.”—Marion Winik, Newsday


“Emily St. John Mandel has an uncanny knack for shape… For all the metaphysical ponderings, The Glass Hotel’s most apparent virtue is its breakneck pacing and compulsive readability. It bodes an elegant and fragmented form, one that excellently matches Mandell’s magnificent storytelling. And what more needs to be said about her storytelling? It is nothing short of an insistent and astonishing gift.”—Brady Brickner-Wood, Ploughshares

The Glass Hotel totally sticks the landing… Mandel’s prose is such a pleasure to read… [I] gave way to real delight in the skill with which Mandel brings together themes that have occupied previous sections of the novel, revisiting earlier characters and incidents from surprising new perspectives in a narrative sleight of hand that recalls what M. Night Shyamalan does in movies such as Unbreakable. Mandel’s conclusion is dazzling.”
—Chris Hewitt, Minneapolis Star Tribune


“Absorbing, finely wrought… Mandel paints an intricately plotted, haunting portrait of heartbreak, abandonment, betrayal, riches, corruption and reinvention in a contemporary world both strange and weirdly recognizable.”—Joyce Sáenz Harris, Dallas Morning News

“Mandel… specializes in fiction that weaves together seemingly unrelated people, places and things. The Glass Hotel… is no exception… Kaleidoscopic… Mandel dissects the surreal division between those who are conscious of ongoing crimes, and those who are unwittingly brought into them… The Glass Hotel… examine[s]  how we respond to chaos after catastrophe.”—Annabel Gutterman, Time

“A careful, damning study of the forms of disaster humanity brings down on itself… In a world where rolling disasters fade into one another, it’s a reminder that Mandel wants to lurch us out of the tedium.”—Hillary Kelly, Vulture

The Glass Hotel will haunt you… Mandel delicately illuminates the devastation wreaked on the fraud’s victims while brilliantly teasing out the hairsbreadth moments in which a person can seamlessly slide into moral corruption… The Glass Hotel isn’t so much plot driven as it is coiled—a taut braid of lives undone by Alkaitis’ and others’ grifts… negotiating slippery ethics and questionable compromises, and the liminal space between innocence and treachery.” —Ivy Pochoda, O Magazine

“Deeply imagined, philosophically profound… The Glass Hotel moves forward propulsively, its characters continually on the run… Richly satisfying… The Glass Hotel is ultimately as immersive a reading experience as its predecessor [Station Eleven], finding all the necessary imaginative depth within the more realistic confines of its world… Revolutionary.”—Ruth Franklin, The Atlantic

“Long-anticipated… At its heart, this is a ghost story in which every boundary is blurred, from the moral to the physical… In luminous prose, Mandel shows how easy it is to become caught in a web of unintended consequences and how disastrous it can be when such fragile bonds shatter under pressure. A strange, subtle, and haunting novel. —Kirkus Reviews, starred

“Another tale of wanderers whose fates are interconnected… nail-biting tension… Mandel weaves an intricate spider web of a story… A gorgeously rendered tragedy.”—Booklist, starred 

“Mandel’s wonderful novel (after Station Eleven) follows a brother and sister as they navigate heartache, loneliness, wealth, corruption, drugs, ghosts, and guilt… This ingenious, enthralling novel probes the tenuous yet unbreakable bonds between people and the lasting effects of momentary carelessness.”—Publishers Weekly, starred

Author Q&A

Q: Was there a particular event or idea that was the genesis for THE GLASS HOTEL? 
A: My original idea was that I wanted to write a ghost story that was also somehow about money. (In fact, one of my early working titles was Ghosts and Money, because titles are hard.) But the event that captured my imagination was the collapse of the Madoff Ponzi scheme. The characters in the novel are entirely fictional, but the central crime is essentially Madoff’s.
 
 
Q: At the center of this novel is this Madoff-esque financial collapse and the characters who pay the human cost. What drew you to this story of a massive Ponzi scheme? 
A: When the Madoff story broke, I was an administrative assistant who wrote novels on the side. As an office worker, what fascinated me most about the story was the idea of Madoff’s staff. Think of the camaraderie that you have in any office environment, or with any group of people, and now imagine how much more intense that camaraderie would be if you were showing up at work every Monday morning to perpetuate a massive crime. What story do you have to tell yourself in order to sleep at night? Or is it less a question of narrative, and more a question of existing in a state of knowing and not knowing at the same time? 
 
It seemed to me that there were two very interesting collective delusions at play: on the one hand, a group of investors who were able to convince themselves that their spectacularly high returns were plausible; on the other, a group of staffers who somehow managed to look their families in the eye over the dinner table at the end of the work day. I find myself drawn to the 2008-09 economic collapse (it was also the subject of my third novel, The Lola Quartet), and I felt when I wrote this book that I was essentially engaged in writing historical fiction. I didn’t think of this book as having any particular relevance to the present, but when I consider the political landscapes on both sides of the Atlantic, it seems to me that we’ve slipped back into the era of the man in the empty suit, so to speak, the era of conmen and mass delusions.
 
Q: One your characters describes money as “its own country.” What does this country look like?
A: It’s a country whose citizens experience a lesser degree of risk than most of us are accustomed to. I don’t mean this in a judgmental or pejorative sense——but people who have always had money just operate in a different reality, and often have a limited understanding of what it means to not have money. Of course, misfortune can befall them, but they are immune to the problems that can be fixed with money. I’m not making a moral judgment against them. It’s just that practically speaking, they’re from a different country, and there are fundamental differences in outlook.
 
Q: What sort of research informs this novel—in addition to finance, you seem to know a lot about hotel management and also shipping containers!? 
A: I’m glad the book conveys that impression! I’m by no means an expert on any of those topics, but there are several excellent books on the Madoff story—I particularly liked Diana B. Henriques’s The Wizard of Lies— and I read a great book about shipping a few years back, Rose George’s Ninety Percent of Everything. I think I picked up most of the hotel management details from blogs and from Jacob Tomsky’s memoir Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality.
 
Q: The hotel itself is so beautifully rendered. It feels like it just has to exist. Can you describe it a little and also how you came to imagine it? Is it based on any real place? 
A: I wish that hotel existed. I stay in a lot of hotels, and I thought of the Hotel Caiette as sort of my magical ideal hotel, the one I’d stay in if I could. A high-end hotel is a self-enclosed world. It was interesting to imagine that self-enclosed world being placed in a somewhat incongruous place. In the book, it’s a luxury hotel located on an inlet in the far north of Vancouver Island. There are some very remote places up there, and the surreality of a hotel of that scale being placed on the outskirts of one of those tiny isolated hamlets was appealing to me.
 
Q: So, we have talked about money. Let’s talk about the ghosts. What drew you to a ghost’s story? 
A: I’ve always loved ghost stories and wanted to write one. We tend to think of ghosts in kind of a literal, “spooky figure approaching down darkened hallway” way, but as I went deeper into the book, I found it interesting to think about different ways of being haunted. There’s a poem I love by Tomas Tranströmer, called The Blue House, in which a man contemplates his house, and his life, from the vantage point of the nearby woods. He writes: “I am grateful for this life! And yet I miss the alternatives. All sketches wish to be real. … We do not actually know it, but we sense it: our life has a sister vessel which plies an entirely different route.” 
 
I love this idea, that our lives are haunted by these “sketches,” these ghosts of the lives we didn’t live. (The life where you married someone different, for example, or where you went to a different school, the life where you emigrated instead of staying or vice versa.) So, some characters in The Glass Hotel are haunted by figures that might be projections but might be actual ghosts (if one can use a word like “actual” where a ghost is concerned), and others are haunted by lives they might have lived. Other characters are actually ghosts themselves.
 
Q: Station Eleven fans will find some small nods to that beloved novel here. While this novel is different in so many ways how do you see it in relation to Station Eleven? It seems like they are both in many ways about art? 
A: Yes, I think that’s fair to say. I also think it’s fair to say that if The Glass Hotel is a departure from Station Eleven, it’s in many ways a return to the themes that preoccupied me in my earlier work. My first three novels—Last Night in Montreal, The Singer’s Gun, and The Lola Quartet‚—were largely concerned with bad decisions, the question of how to live honourably in a damaged world, memory, and questionable morality.

Back to Top