“My life amounts to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean. Yet what is any ocean, but a multitude of drops?”
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
Do you have a favourite author? By that I mean an author who you drop everything for and buy their new book on its release day. After buying their new book, you start reading it immediately. You know, an author who gets you excited about reading, about getting lost in their written worlds. An author whose book you wake up early to read before you have to leave for work. And, conversely, an author whose book you stay up way past your usual bedtime to read just one more chapter. For me, it used to be Haruki Murakami–sorry, Haruki. Now it is David Mitchell.
“Who?” You may cry. The David Mitchell who wrote Cloud Atlas, one of my favourite books of all time. (Much, much better than the movie, which I actually have a soft spot for.) Now, I know it’s all subjective. We all have our own tastes, thank goodness! But I just wanted to share with you some of the excitement I’m feeling right now.
David Mitchell’s new book Utopia Avenue will be released on July 14th. I’m really looking forward to it, in case you haven’t gathered that yet;-) Now, I realize that I might be setting myself up for a fall. How often is it that something we build up and get excited about actually ends up disappointing us? Yeah, it happens. But I am remaining positively optimistic!
Over the years, I’ve read each of David Mitchell’s fiction novels and enjoyed them all; some more than others, of course. As I already wrote, I think my favourite is Cloud Atlas. But his 2010 novel The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet comes in a close second. Here is a list of his published novels:
Cloud Atlas (2004)
Black Swan Green (2006)
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010)
The Bone Clocks (2014) [Here is a link to my brief review on goodreads.]
Slade House (2015)
Looking at the publication dates, it seems hard to believe that his first novel was released 21 years ago! I actually read number9dream first, closely followed by Ghostwritten. It’s a long time ago but I remember enjoying number9dream because it reminded me of Haruki Murakami’s early works. It’s also set in Japan–a country I’ve been fascinated with since I was young–so that added to my interest in the book.
When I read Ghostwritten, it really impressed me and I kept recommending it to as many people as I could. I thought it was a better book than number9dream; more ambitious with its multiple characters and story-lines. Mitchell has a gift for writing believable characters, something which is common to all of his books. He is also really good at crafting multiple narratives which connect with each other, often in subtle, almost unnoticeable ways. I’m trying to remember more details about Ghostwritten, but it has been so long since I read it that I need to re-read it. Then I can see if it still impresses me as much as the first time. In fact, I want to re-read all of Mitchell’s novels. Possible project for the future…?
In researching this post, I’ve discovered that Mitchell wrote a novella in 2016 which will not be published until the year 2114. From Me Flows What You Call Time is part of “The Future Library Project” which ‘aims to collect an original work by a popular writer every year from 2014 to 2114. The works will remain unread and unpublished until 2114.’
Have you read any of David Mitchell’s books? If you have, I’d love to hear what you thought.