Reinventing after chaos

By Annabel Gutterman

IN 2008, EMILY ST. JOHN MANDEL WAS WORKING a day job at a cancer-research lab in New York when she learned of Bernie Madoff’s investment scandal. “It got me thinking about how much I liked my co-workers,” the novelist says, peering down at the wet sidewalks of Manhattan’s financial district from a restaurant lounge. “And how much more intense our camaraderie would be if we all showed up at work on Monday morning to perpetuate a massive crime.”

The story of Madoff’s infamous Ponzi scheme and the devastation it created looms over Mandel’s latest book, out March 24. But Mandel, the 41-year-old author of four previous novels including the acclaimed specializes in fiction that weaves together seemingly unrelated people, places and things. which blends the story of an investor whose Ponzi scheme falls apart in 2008 with that of a woman who disappears from a ship in 2018, is no exception. “This book about a financial crime that is also a ghost story about container shipping,” she says. “Try crafting that elevator pitch.”

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