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Cloud Atlasby David Mitchell
Winner of The Morning News 2005 Tournament of Books
While it was hard to narrow down my list to just five "best of" picks, I didn't have to think twice about what would be my favorite book of the year. In Cloud Atlas Mitchell again uses the format of connecting short stories with recurring motifs into a larger, almost epic narrative that spans the globe and centuries of human history. Filled with wonderful characters, effortless shifts in style, and more imagination than you can shake a stick at, Cloud Atlas will be a tough book for its author to top. Personally, I cannot wait to see him try.
For readers who enjoy good stories wrapped around an inventive structure. Each tale is obliquely connected to another moving forward through time. And each has a totally different voice and style.
If you haven't read David Mitchell's previous novels, let Cloud Atlas be your introduction to his incredible imagination. Here six convincing and wonderfully realized worlds, filled with surprise and originality, loosely intermingle. Each story, inhabited with equally compelling characters, proves the genius of this amazingly gifted writer.
"David Mitchell is a spookily protean writer. His favored technique — he used it in his first novel, Ghostwritten — is to build a long narrative out of shorter ones, stories told in vastly different voices and styles, then cinch the whole patchwork together with some supernal device that reveals their underlying connections. In Ghostwritten, he couldn't manage to pull off that final, unifying gesture, but his third novel, Cloud Atlas, is far more convincing, a genuine and thoroughly entertaining literary puzzle." Laura Miller, Salon.com (read the entire Salon.com review)
Synopses & Reviews
Cloud Atlas begins in 1850 with Adam Ewing, an American notary voyaging from the Chatham Isles to his home in California. Along the way, Ewing is befriended by a physician, Dr. Goose, who begins to treat him for a rare species of brain parasite. Abruptly, the action jumps to Belgium in 1931, where Robert Frobisher, a disinherited bisexual composer, inveigles his way into the household of an infirm maestro who has a beguiling wife and a nubile daughter. From there we jump to the West Coast in the 1970s and a troubled reporter named Luisa Rey, who stumbles upon a web of corporate greed and murder that threatens to claim her life. And onward, to an inglorious present-day England; to a Korean superstate of the near future where neocapitalism has run amok; and, finally, to a postapocalyptic Iron Age Hawaii in the last days of history.
But the story doesn't even end there. The narrative then boomerangs back through centuries and space, returning by the same route, in reverse, to its starting point. Along the way, Mitchell reveals how his disparate characters connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.
"Atmospheric and moving, this is an impressively assured debut." Publishers Weekly
"Great Britain's answer to Thomas Pynchon outdoes himself...maddeningly intricate, improbably entertaining....
"The novel as series of nested dolls or Chinese boxes, a puzzle-book, and yet — not just dazzling, amusing or clever but heartbreaking and passionate, too. I've never read anything quite like it, and I'm grateful to have lived, for a while, in all its many worlds, which are all one world, which is, in turn, enchanted by Mitchell's spell-caster prose, our own." Michael Chabon, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
"A boomeranging historical novel moving from the Age of Discover to post-apocalyptic Hawaii with stops on the way in China Syndrome-era California and dystopian capitalist Korea. An amazing performance of ventriloquism and brains." Tin House magazine
"[A] remarkable book....It knits together science fiction, political thriller and historical pastiche with musical virtuosity and linguistic exuberance: there won't be a bigger, bolder novel next year." Justine Jordan, The Guardian (U.K.)
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