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The Singer's Gun

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3.66 of 5 stars 3.66  ·  rating details  ·  489 ratings  ·  136 reviews
Everyone Anton Waker grew up with is corrupt. His parents deal in stolen goods and his first career is a partnership venture with his cousin Aria selling forged passports and social security cards to illegal aliens. Anton longs for a less questionable way of living in the world and by his late twenties has reinvented himself as a successful middle manager. Then a routine s ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 8th 2011 by Unbridled Books (first published April 6th 2009)
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Virginia Tullock Depends on what you like. it is well written, but jumps around a bit. I like it- an original story. I just finished Station Eleven by the same author,…moreDepends on what you like. it is well written, but jumps around a bit. I like it- an original story. I just finished Station Eleven by the same author, and loved it- a unique post apocalypse story.(less)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,616)
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Jeffrey Keeten
”Afterward, every destination acquired a sudden glow of hellfire, every trip an element of thoroughly unwanted suspense. Escape has become a problem in itself. A travel book without danger----to the body, the soul or the future----is entirely out of time.

...We stand in need of something stronger now: the travel book you can read while making your way through this new, alarming world.”

Michael Pye
The New York Times, June 1, 2003


All Anton Waker ever wanted was a normal job. Not a normal low paying
...more
Girls Gone Reading
We are told early on in The Singer’s Gun that everything is holy. Anton’s mother told him that, “God is the universe,” and from then on Anton looked at the trees, the stars, the train stations all as holy places of creation. Emily St. John Mandel is such a phenomenal writer that I started to see everything in her novel as holy as well.

The Singer’s Gun is book that only could have been written now, after 9/11, after the war on terror, after the breaches by our government in order to keep us “free
...more
Edan
Aug 01, 2010 Edan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Laura Leaney, Mike Reynolds, people who liked Dan Chaon's Await Your Reply
Recommended to Edan by: Patrick Brown
I really enjoyed this book! The prose is slick and clear as glass, and I loved the non-linear, mosaic-like structure, and the way Mandel presented a character's memories with a simple phrase, word or name, followed by a colon, and then a description of such phrase, word or person. It was so elegant, even sexy. Lots of sexiness in this book, guys: naked girls, singers with guns, recording devices, criminal families, Italian islands and payphones, cats eating tuna in airport bathrooms...

At first,
...more
Micheal Fraser
When I first read Last Night in Montreal I said to myself this (and books like this) is why I became a bookseller in the first place. Well, after having finished The Singer's Gun I have to say it again. When one finds a new author who writes a book you lose yourself in and follows it up with something as good or better, well, this makes life worth living.

Begining in a beaucratic hell worthy of Kafka, its turns into something wholely unexpected and surprising. To speak of the plot, I think, would
...more
Irene Ziegler
This is a read for a book club. The more I think about it, the more divided my reaction, a sure promise of a lively discussion. The book examines illegal immigration from the point of view of a man whose family profits by selling fake social security numbers and passports to desperate foreigners. Anton's job is to deliver the packages and accept payment from the illegal recipients. Because Anton wants to get out of the business, we're supposed to like him. Further, he has sympathetic feelings fo ...more
Judy


I just love this author! I wish she wrote more novels though of course I don't want to rush her. She is young and hopefully will get to keep publishing books for years to come. This is her second, after Last Night in Montreal. Her third, The Lola Quartet, will be released in May and I can hardly wait.

Both books so far have been essentially mysteries but Ms Mandel puts her own signature on the genre. In The Singer's Gun, a title which indeed does name the murder weapon, Anton is the son of crimin
...more
Amy
“Sometimes regular channels aren’t open to you, and then you have to improvise. Find your own way out. Think about it, Anton. What does it take to succeed in this world?”



“It’s never easy. You have to be creative sometimes. You have to make things happen for yourself.”


What does it mean to be a good person? Can you justify a tiny bit of crime, maybe by simply looking the other way, if your intent is good? Are you saving the world if you ignoring your own child?

The Singer’s Gun is an incredible no
...more
Liviu
while not as accomplished as the superb Station Eleven which brought the author to my attention and made me get all her novels to date, The Singer's Gun is a page turner that one cannot put down, full of interesting characters - most notably Anton and his desperate quest for "normality", though cutting corners and having a troubled past may catch with him at any moment, and Elena, a Canadian illegal (!!) who also wants a regular life; the concerned US policewoman (ok State Dept investigator into ...more
Patrick Brown
I didn't think it was possible for Mandel to best her dizzyingly great debut novel, but this account of a family caught up in a dirty business is superb. Again, she excels at structure and pacing, moving forward and back in time seamlessly. Highly recommended for fans of the second season of The Wire.
Elyse
I'm a fan of this young author! Emily St. John Mandel is a talented writer. If people enjoy reading 'Tana French' --I think they will enjoy 'Emily St. John Mandel.

I still have her 3rd book yet to read...

Claudia
I liked the structure of this book a lot, but I found myself not particularly involved. It left me feeling rather unmoved.

It was odd, really; it started off feeling like a thriller, but then those elements sort of dropped out and it became a more regular novel, as it were, but one that was built really well. I found myself appreciating the way the story was unfolding, intellectually, and thinking, "well, this is clever," but I kept feeling a bit detached from the characters themselves (even whe
...more
Toni Osborne
I became a fan of Ms. Mandel when I stumbled on her debut novel "Last Night in Montreal". Her second novel is totally different and proved to be just as enjoyable. This time, I was treated to a sophisticated cocktail filled with flashbacks and flash forwards mixed into a fiery mystery of suspense, international intrigue, a tale of family loyalties and the price one pays to obtain independence.

The story concerns the conflicting and intersecting interests of Anton Waker, his ex-secretary/lover El
...more
Dan Rimoldi
I picked up this book because I had heard some very good things and the comparisons that have been made to the second season of The Wire, an underrated season in my opinion. I'm glad I did. The comparisons with the docks from The Wire are quite obvious once you read the term "shipping container."

The Singer's Gun is a very good book, a mystery that is structured perfectly as it weaves moments from the past and present together. It brings up a lot of things about the issue of identity and reminded
...more
Wendy
I first was introduced to Emily St. John Mandel's writing in Last Night in Montreal, which nearly knocked my socks off. The writing was superb and the story was intriguing. Even so, I was not sure what to expect with her latest, The Singer's Gun. I was eager to give it a try though. Like with her first book, I hesitate to describe it (which is why you are presented with the publisher blurb above). There is so much to The Singer's Gun. On the surface it sounds like a crime fiction novel, but it r ...more
Jeff Tucker
I've read all three of Emily St. John Mandel’s books now. She’s going on my favorite author’s list. I guess we all eventually find certain writers who have the style and the pace that works well for us. She continues with many of the same themes that are found in her other books. Her flawed characters are living on the fringes of society and going through major life changes. Her characters often have interesting back stories that add to the richness of the work. Her stories always move forward t ...more
J.A.
Choosing a book to read is like picking out the holy grail. Sure you can drink from any of the vessels in the sanctuary, but pick the showy ostentatious number completely devoid of substance and you could end up a dessicated husk of a human being, your life literally siphoned away. Choose wisely, as the knight tells Indiana Jones, and it will grant you healing and restoration. You may even find illumination, like Indy’s father. Just pay heed to the guardian when he tells you not to take it from ...more
Carol
I needed to sleep on this one before commenting. When I read the very first review of The Singer’s Gun, I knew it was a book I wanted to read. Words like half truths, exploration of moral compass, suspenseful, were enough to add this to my TBR pile. Then The Singer’s Gun started showing up on some Best of 2010 lists and I knew I had to move it up on my list.

The Singer’s Gun was not quite what I was expecting. It is not a crime novel in the usual sense. Rather than sum up the plot let me tell you
...more
Laura de Leon
The Singer's Gun was a 4.5 star book for me.

The story was a look at a young man's life, complicated because of the lies he and his family lived by. Secrets were uncovered, and new webs were woven by the people nearby to take their place.

There are aspects of a thriller, of good guys and bad guys and guns and pursuit. But even more than a thriller, this was a personal tale-- How does one person escape the web he was born into, particularly if he uses the tools of his upbringing to stage his escap
...more
Peter Surmont
Much more different than but as good as Station Eleven !!
Brilliant reading. Wow.
Colette
Having now read all St. John Mandel's novels, I am probably interested in continuing with her, based on the last two, not the first two (Last Night in Montreal and the Singer's Gun), which I didn't find that interesting. But I like the way she writes, so I'll be on the lookout for future work. (One thing: is there maybe a lack of originality in her plots? I guess most books these days can't really claim to be entirely original - every author is inspired by something else, for instance - but I fo ...more
lisa
the opening scene of The Singer’s Gun gives the definite feel of a suspense/thriller novel:
A man’s voice: It’s done. There is a sound on the tape here – the woman’s sharp intake of breath – but all she says in reply is Thank you. We’ll speak again soon. He disconnects and she hangs up three seconds later.

and with that, i was intrigued, but not sold. i felt like a fish watching a dangler, waiting to see if it looked fake or yummy. and whatever else i was searching for to hook me didn’t come until
...more
Kari
Anton Waker has always been surrounded by shady business. He grew up with parents that made a living off selling stolen goods; his cousin Aria trained him to shoplift at an early age; and eventually, Aria led Anton down his own path of illegal business—selling fake passports and social security cards. They've forged a successful business—and Anton calls it the easier job he's ever had—but for the past several years, Anton has distanced himself from the illegal business market and built one he do ...more
Lee Razer
Once upon a time, in far more primitive days, people connected to the internet through 56k modems. Remember those? Waiting for a picture to download could try the patience of typical modern man. An ingenious approach to dealing with this problem was interlacing. Rather than downloading from top to bottom strictly sequentially, an interlaced image was divided up into strips 8 pixels high and downloaded onto your screen in passes. The first pass downloaded only the top line of each strip, the seco ...more
Alice Meloy
In the middle of this wild story of identity fraud and international crime is a weak-kneed young man whose strongest commitment seems to be to his cat. Anton wants to take the high road ethically and distance himself from his parents' shady business (selling stolen goods), but he can only do so when he steals someone else's identity. He wants nothing more than to work in an office, get married and live a normal life, but his fiancee cancels the wedding twice, a government agent finds out about h ...more
Lindsay Chung
You know, I get it. I can see the intrigue that so many people have had with this book. There are pages of reviews that are blaringly positive about The Singer’s Gun. I understand where they are all coming from. However, I personally was not completely drawn to the book. I will say that it would make for a great movie. The book does a lot of jumping from past to present and back again in an effort to help the reader to understand the exact “what happened” behind each event. I actually kind of li ...more
Brian King
The Singer's Gun, a fiction novel by Emily St. John Mandel, is a captivating thriller about a young man named Anton Waker, and how he can never seem to escape the corruption that surrounds his life. Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Anton learns from a young age that what his parents do for a living is out of the ordinary. He discovers that his family deals in stolen goods, and his cousin Aria has a knack for stealing things. Growing up, Anton becomes a part of 'the family trade' and he takes on ...more
Stacey
It's been some time since I read this book and, even more than in LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL, the dreamlike quality to SJM's storytelling haunts. Her acute observations of the minutest details and her ability to raise even the simplest moments to spiritual communion, making YOU realize how little you really pay attention in your own day-to-day life. SJM is a true prose-poet, peeling away the layers of onions in every scene. Compared to most writers, her style is quiet and seemingly uneventful, parti ...more
Manda
In Emily St. John Mandel's new book, The Singer's Gun, Anton Waker has found himself in trouble, without a possible way out. Anton thought he was finally done with the business of illegal dealings and shady transactions, but when his cousin comes to him with one more job, and the blackmail to force his hand, Anton finds himself once again in over his head. Anton's carefully constructed life hangs on the edge and things take an unexpected turn, he's forced to choose between a life that he made fo ...more
Chelsea
I enjoyed Mandel's first book, reviewed here, and her second book provides another great read.

Anton Waker is at a crossroads in his life. Until recently, his existence was largely based on participating in the shady dealings of the family business. Now he wants to clean up his morals and get out, but not before his cousin Aria demands he run one last job for her. Torn between thoughts of his affair with his co-worker and his indifferent bride to be, Anton agrees and heads towards events that are
...more
Agatha
Interesting. Anton Waker was raised in Brooklyn as the single child of two parents who make a living re-selling stolen objets d’art and was coerced into helping his cousin Aria in a SSN/passport fraud scheme for a number of years, until he decided that he wanted to live a straight, clean life. To launch this, he couldn’t help but dip a toe back into the illegal life by purchasing a faux diploma from Harvard (!) but he did get a corporate job and is engaged to a “regular” girl, Sophie, an up-and- ...more
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Emily St. John Mandel was born and raised on the west coast of British Columbia, Canada. She studied contemporary dance at the School of Toronto Dance Theatre and lived briefly in Montreal before relocating to New York.

Her fourth novel, Station Eleven, is forthcoming in September 2014. All three of her previous novels—Last Night in Montreal, The Singer's Gun, and The Lola Quartet—were Indie Next
...more
More about Emily St. John Mandel...
Station Eleven Last Night in Montreal The Lola Quartet Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books

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