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The Singer's Gun

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3.69  ·  Rating details ·  2,811 ratings  ·  417 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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Average rating 3.69  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,811 ratings  ·  417 reviews


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Jeffrey Keeten
Oct 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
”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 n
...more
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
...more
Claudia
May 29, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Elyse (retired from reviewing/semi hiatus) Walters
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...

Neil
Nov 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, 5-stars
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
...more
Micheal Fraser
Jun 05, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Carol
Dec 28, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Katie Lumsden
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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!
Liisa
Aug 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5/5
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
...more
Marianne Robin-Tani
While I loved Ms. St. John Mandel's "Station Eleven," but 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.
The Captain
Sep 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Judy
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition


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 s
...more
Edan
Jul 27, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  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...
...more
Irene Ziegler
Jun 14, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 k
...more
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,
...more
Sue
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
Patrick Brown
Jan 28, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: best-of-2010
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.
Whitney
Oct 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Amy
May 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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 c
...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
Sam Reaves
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
Laura de Leon
Mar 31, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 sta
...more
Charlotte Jones
Jul 19, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is not the sort of book I would usually gravitate towards but I'm so glad that I have read it.

Mandel's writing is just as simple yet beautiful as it is in Station Eleven but with a haunting undertone that leaves the reader eager to read on. The plot itself is intricate and told in a non-linear style. This mixing of the characters' timelines adds to the mystery and reveals small details slowly, building up to the bigger picture as the story progresses.

Overall this was a short bu
...more
Dawn
It was a bit boring, which seems such a generic thing to say about a book, so I shall try to expand. It should have been more intriguing really, there is a bit of a mystery to the characters. Who they are, what they do, why they do it. Somehow there is no spark though, no life so to speak, the characters are 2D representations of something that might possibly have been interesting, if fleshed out more. These characters seem to live their lives by mistake, they float along and do their thing with ...more
Piepie
Jun 06, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
Really curious and intriguing book. I couldn't put it down! The main character, Anton, receives the "singer's gun" only sometime after the midpoint of the story. Again Emily St. John Mandel's beautiful writing is on full display -- sentences and fragments so well written that I read and re-read them just to take them all in. She packs a lot into a book that is not quite 300 pages. I've read her books out of order (as far as the order in which they were published), and I see similarities between ...more
Jordan
Dec 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Station Eleven or The Little Paris Bookshop
Shelves: 2-d-f, reviewed
I had read Station Eleven and loved it, so I was very excited to start this book. And it was great. Emily St. John Mandel's prose is beautiful and wholly engrossing, and I loved that this book didn't seem to fit entirely into any one genre. I connected with the characters, and while the whole situation seemed a little unreal at times it didn't affect my enjoyment of the book. It wasn't a page-turner; I did not feel the need to read it constantly. But while I was reading hours seemed to fly by in ...more
Margaret
It'll be a few days before I can rate this book. All I can say right now is that I think it's just as good as Station Eleven (the author's most recent book and the first book of hers that I have read) but is so very different in tone. The style is similar: moving back and forth in time, the author brings together the threads of a story. Where Station Eleven is charming, this is bleak. But still worth reading.
Amy Cloud
Jan 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
Complex and interesting, but ultimately it didn’t resonate with me like Station Eleven did.
Ian
Mar 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Emily St. John Mandel's intricately plotted second novel finds her hero, Anton Waker, attempting to escape from a family that makes a comfortable living through unlawful enterprise. His parents deal in stolen goods. Anton, for his part, worked for years with his cousin Aria to provide illegal immigrants with forged passports and other documentation. But Anton was never cut out for life as a criminal—he’s too sensitive and he has a conscience. While in his twenties, his attempt to leave the famil ...more
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5,547 followers
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
“A or B, two options present themselves, and you choose the one that seems best at the time.” 1 likes
“Nothing is over yet, she told herself. The cat's still inside.” 1 likes
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