Christine Hloros on Station Eleven
It’s easy to be skeptical of yet another post-apocalyptic tale… but this story, by Emily St.John Mandel, does not involve zombies, vampires or aliens. And though it revolves around a pandemic, it is not centered on the search for a cure. Rather, the story is about humanity—in particular, the elements of humanity different survivors cling to decades later. It juxtaposes tabloid culture against Shakespeare and symphonies, the value of history against the pain of remembering and the power of community against the danger of dogmatism. This character-driven novel will leave you questioning what pieces of our culture, what parts of our identity, will really matter in the long-run.
Ian Christie on Germany
My poem of the year is by my favourite sustainability consultant David Fell, at his inventive blog The Economics of Enough. It’s called “On Grief, En Verve,” a meditation on grief and love. It begins like this:
HOW BIG IS IT?
It is the size of
long loves lost
lovers’ fading faces
fleeting ecstasy of dust
And as a Germanophile, I had almost given up hope of Britain ever celebrating the genius, depth and diversity in German civilisation history, instead of focusing obsessively on the Third Reich. So it was wonderful to find Neil McGregor, the BBC and the British Museum doing exactly that, in Germany: Memories of a Nation, a richly evocative set of works – radio series, book and exhibition – on Germany history and culture seen through the lens of diverse objects and artists, from frankfurters to Volkswagens, Durer to Kollwitz.
The image of the placard, from 1989, is courtesy of the British Museum. The Memories of a Nation exhibition continues at the British Museum until 25th January.