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Finalist for the 2001 Booker Prize
Against the hyperkinetic backdrop of twenty-first-century Tokyo, Eiji Miyake searches for the father who abandoned him. Dreams and fantasy, fact and fiction merge in a complex narrative that rewards the ambitious reader. David Mitchell continues to prove himself a novelist of considerable gifts.
Synopses & Reviews
Number9Dream is the international literary sensation from a writer with astonishing range and imaginative energy — an intoxicating ride through Tokyo's dark underworlds and the even more mysterious landscapes of our collective dreams.
David Mitchell follows his eerily precocious, globe-striding first novel, Ghostwritten, with a work that is in its way even more ambitious. In outward form, Number9Dream is a Dickensian coming-of-age journey: Young dreamer Eiji Miyake, from remote rural Japan, thrust out on his own by his sister's death and his mother's breakdown, comes to Tokyo in pursuit of the father who abandoned him. Stumbling around this strange, awesome city, he trips over and crosses — through a hidden destiny or just monstrously bad luck — a number of its secret power centers. Suddenly, the riddle of his father's identity becomes just one of the increasingly urgent questions Eiji must answer. Why is the line between the world of his experiences and the world of his dreams so blurry? Why do so many horrible things keep happening to him? What is it about the number 9? To answer these questions, and ultimately to come to terms with his inheritance, Eiji must somehow acquire an insight into the workings of history and fate that would be rare in anyone, much less in a boy from out of town with a price on his head and less than the cost of a Beatles disc to his name.
"David Mitchell's cartoonish new novel...plays with genre and has a sinister edge. Imagine a Philip K. Dick tale interpreted by a coked-up Salman Rushdie impersonator. It's show-offy fiction on a bad hair day....a wild explosion of color and energy, amped up on action-packed set pieces and astute observations of contemporary Japanese society." Joy Press, The Village Voice
"Mitchell writes a bravura, reckless prose which takes its cues from William Gibson and Jack Kerouac, and which takes aim at jejune realism. He is a wonderfully amphibious writer, happy in all manner of elements, and seems able to produce an endless parade of interesting characters. number9dream resounds to the same marvellous chatter of different voices that marked out Ghostwritten, his outstanding first novel. But while Ghostwritten was a tightly controlled, intricately structured work of fiction, number9dream is a sprawling, wanton affair. For all its attractions, the book suffers from an imaginative hyper-fecundity. What with the alternative realities, the narrative byways and cul-de-sacs, there is just too much information coming at you." Robert MacFarlane, The Guardian (UK)
"Mitchell showed considerable promise in his highly acclaimed debut, but his sophomore effort is so chaotic that it will test even the most diligent and devoted reader." Publishers Weekly
"Mitchell...has a gift for fiction?s natural pleasures — intricate surprises, insidiously woven narratives, ingenious voices." The New York Times Book Review
"Alternating the modes of sadistic action movie, detective story, cyberpunk thriller, and gentle romance, the external action of the novel is always engaging. But such is Mitchell's beautifully precise style that he can make inaction just as pleasurable....number9dream is heavily influenced by the Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami....It may be, however, that Murakami is a dangerous model....Mitchell's attempt to borrow historical pathos misfires, while he simulates the gossamer naivety of Murakami's characters — especially in his curiously asexual central romance — without ever quite managing, as the Japanese novelist does, to make them resonate. Murakami conjures a tone of great poetic melancholy out of deceptively simple materials. It is a tone that Mitchell has not quite matched here, but he is clearly a writer of such rare imaginative energy that in the future he will doubtless create a world entirely his own." Steven Poole, The Guardian (UK)
"The novel begins like a Manga comic strip with over-the-top, cartoon violence and high-tech weaponry and the pace of a William Gibson science fiction novel....Some of the various narratives, such as the journal of a Japanese World War II torpedo pilot, are successful, while others, a collection of surreal short stories, are not." Darren Waters, BBC News Online
A young dreamer from remote rural Japan, Eiji Miyake, finds himself thrust out and on his own following his sister's death and his mother's breakdown. He comes to Tokyo in pursuit of the father he never knew, and promptly trips over and crosses the hidden power centers that rule this great city.
In outward from, Number9Dream is a classic Dickensian coming-of-age journey: a young naif, Eiji Miyake, a provincial boy raised by his grandmother on an outer island, makes his way to Tokyo at the age of twenty to find his father. As the novel builds to its haunting conclusion, Eiji's dreams intrude on his waking life with more and more insistence, until in the end the difference between them is trivial, and the spell he is under and the one the reader has fallen under become fully the same.
About the Author
David Mitchell is thirty-three years old and lives in Hiroshima. He is the author of the novel Ghostwritten.
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