Emily St. John Mandel's third novel, The Lola Quartet
, drops the reader into a contemporary Florida suburb, where disgraced newspaper reporter Gavin Sasaki is forced to return to a hometown that is swiftly disintegrating and a past that is not quite ready to receive him.
I suppose the novel will be called a mystery, and it certainly is structured as such. But Mandel's writing includes essences of noir and of the socially conscious novel, and she achieves - through effortless shifts in point of view, and a sparseness that indicates a real sense of sophistication - a highly literary novel.
There is a mystery - what happened to Anna, Gavin's high school girlfriend, who disappeared one summer surrounded by rumors of a pregnancy? If the child exists, is it Gavin's? Why does everyone from Gavin's past seem to know more about what happened than he does? By...
Beyond the Book
Emily St. John Mandel's writing includes essences of old-fashioned noir. But what is noir?
"Roman noir" is a French expression that literally translates as "black novel." Historically, the term was used to describe Gothic novels set in the UK, however, its contemporary usage refers to an American invention - the hardboiled thriller. Generally, "hardboiled" means that the novel includes an element of crime, usually with a detective at the center of the action. The style was introduced in the 1920s by authors such as Carroll John Daly and was made widely popular in the late 1930s by Raymond Chandler.