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The Singer's Gun

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  3,882 ratings  ·  527 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
Hardcover, 287 pages
Published April 6th 2009 by Unbridled Books
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Josh Look up Chekov's gun. She puts a lot of literary stuff in all her novels.…moreLook up Chekov's gun. She puts a lot of literary stuff in all her novels.(less)
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Paul Long Anton did whatever was easiest, and whatever came along. I found several of the characters in this book acted that way -- this is an event-driven book…moreAnton did whatever was easiest, and whatever came along. I found several of the characters in this book acted that way -- this is an event-driven book, not a charcter-drived novel.(less)

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Average rating 3.74  · 
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 ·  3,882 ratings  ·  527 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing
”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
Andrew Smith
May 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anton Walker is bright, he’s a brilliant student at high school and dreams of one day holding down an ‘executive position’. His cousin, Aria, is displaced when her parents skip the country and abandon her. Aria steals things. How a Anton is influenced by Aria and where this leads them both is at the core of this tale.

Told in her standard style, jumping around in time and place, Emily St. John Mandel places layers of the story on the page until it all knits together and makes sense. She is a mas
May 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 5-stars, 2016
I have a message for Emily St. John Mandel. My message is, "Please write another book soon!". I've now read all four of her novels and they are all excellent.

She is an expert story teller. I guess a sort of "trademark" for her is that her stories jump around in time, but the details revealed are always perfectly paced and fit perfectly with the story without seeming forced. For example, in this book we read "Anton was drinking wine with two of his staff: Dahlia, who he would liked to drink with
Elyse  Walters
Oct 11, 2012 rated it really liked it
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...

Dec 28, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Micheal Fraser
Jun 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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, woul
Katie Lumsden
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5-stars
Brilliant as always - Emily St John Mandel writes so beautifully, so perfectly, and the pacing and tone throughout is so poised and well thought-out. Her characterisation and the subtly of her writing is as strong here as in her other books - I highly recommend!
Marianne Robin-Tani
Sep 30, 2017 rated it it was ok
While I loved Ms. St. John Mandel's "Station Eleven," this book disappointed me. The characters weren't engaging or interesting, I never cared about them and the story didn't go anywhere. I kept reading, thinking something exciting would eventually happen, but nothing ever did. ...more
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Station Eleven is one of my favorite novels, so I had been wanting to read something else from Emily St. John Mandel for a long time now. I ended up choosing The Singer’s Gun simply because it had the highest rating on Goodreads. It’s extremely different from Station Eleven, but brilliant in its own way, apart from the ending which I found to be really anticlimactic. The jumps in time and in view point are executed skillfully, the main character is utterly fascinating and even though I foun
The Captain
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Ahoy there me mateys! I adored station eleven and so I thought I would read another book by this wonderful author. Jenny @ readingtheend stated in me comments section of me review of station eleven that “The Singer’s Gun is my other favorite of her books — it’s way way far behind Station Eleven in awesomeness, but it has a similarly intricate plot.” So I listened to Jenny and read this book.

And aye, I enjoyed it immensely. This was off the charts (i.e. a non sci-fi, fantasy, or YA title) and was
Mar 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3 1/2, rounded up to 4 because of her always top notch writing and because I'm a fan girl. This is the 3rd (of 4?) ESJM books I've read, and I adored it just a little less than the other two. I'm not sure where this falls in the chronology of her novels. Her distinct style is there, and her writing is lovely as ever, but there was less certainty in the plot and not as much depth in the characters as in her other work. I still recommend it, and I still plan to read The Lola Quartet. She's become ...more
Nov 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Just the way it worked out, I read this fairly close to reading The Glass Hotel, and I think I see a little more now about what St. John Mandel is interested in. In both books, she shows us people who are trying to escape their pasts, people who cannot seem to follow the rules (and sometimes the law).

Here, St. John Mandel shows us a man who grew up in a family of 'architectural salvagers,' aka people who receive looted antiques from old homes, and comes of age selling passports and green cards t
Dec 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Almost a 4 star novel and again, very classy stuff from the talented Mandel (I do wonder if the ‘St. John’ in her name is pronounced as in ‘Ian St John’ or as in ‘Norman St-John Stevas’) if not quite as arresting as her stunning ‘Station 11’. This is a thriller first and foremost with the action switching, Bond style, across the Atlantic and even, by way of flashbacks, to the Canadian Arctic North. The dust jacket of the edition I read does give away a major plot development and it’s one on a ve ...more
Jul 27, 2010 rated it really liked it
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,
Irene Ziegler
Jun 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literary-fiction
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
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
Girls Gone Reading
Nov 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Emelie Gaughan
Emily St John Mandel is officially the author I can't get enough of right now! Her newest book Station Eleven blew me away and I immediately wanted to read the rest of her works.
This one was a mash up of genres to me. It's unfolds much like a mystery as you discover more and more about characters and their motives. It reads like a thriller, and even though there isn't any particular plot point that totally shocks you, you find yourself continually turning pages to see what's next. Overall, it wa
Sam Reaves
Dec 22, 2015 rated it liked it
A New York yuppie, the only honest member of his dodgy family, is blackmailed into playing bagman for a cousin's shady deal while on his honeymoon on an Italian island. The marriage is the first thing that succumbs; other extinctions follow. There is considerable backstory, involving furtive love affairs, doomed relationships and federal investigations. I can't quite make up my mind about this book; it's reasonably entertaining, smoothly written, and menacing enough in the end. It's original and ...more
Jul 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020-books
As hauntingly beautiful as every novel by the author, though I have to admit my enjoyment was slightly lessened by the fact that I disliked the main character. But it does feature a cat, which is great. I've also started to notice how all the books share little locations and clues and details that link everything together (for example, this book features the same Russian café as in The Glass Hotel), so that discovery has been very satisfying for me. ...more
Laila (BigReadingLife)
What took me so long to pick this up?!? I loved it. Brilliant structure, brilliant story-telling. Mandel has a way of beautifully humanizing even very morally squishy characters. (And there’s a great cat character in it too.)
Sharman Russell
Oct 27, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I am just quite fond of this author. I like being in her mind. In her stories. We're good friends (not true at all, I mean, not literally), and so you can't take any review I write about her work seriously. ...more
Sep 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This woman is an amazing writer. Each of her books have absolutely blown me away. So far I’ve read 4 of her 5 novels, each completely different from the one before, and each totally compelling. I highly recommend Emily St. John Mandel.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I’m slightly annoyed with myself for not diving into @emilystjohnmandel ‘s backlist before now, with all my professed love for Station Eleven. But as she has a new book coming in 2020 (!!!!), I decided it was time to hit the backlist.

The Singer’s Gun was published in 2010 as her second of four novels. Anton, who grew up in a family whose business was theft and fraud, tries to separate himself from his past. But when his cousin asks for his help with one last deal, he struggles with whether he c
May 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
“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
Jul 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it

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
Toni Osborne
Nov 12, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Laura de Leon
Mar 31, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, review-copy
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
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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.

She is the author of five novels, including The Glass Hotel (spring 2020) and Station Eleven (2014.) Station Eleven was a finalist for a National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Aw

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