Favourite Author?

“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:

Ghostwritten (1999)
number9dream (2001)
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.

25 thoughts on “Favourite Author?

  1. Cloud Atlas and Bone Clocks are on my tbr since forever, but I never read anything by him. Zero. Nothing. From Murakami I’ve read only 1Q84 – “Cute little story blown up to some 900 pages. Repetitions, boring details balanced by fabulous characterizations.” There are several books from him hugging my shelve but I never came back.
    My top authors that I’d grab anything newly written from are: Le Guin, Tolkien, Herbert. Hm. That’s nearly macabre. But from living authors I have Robinson, Sanderson, Chiang (the last one is not too expensive – only one story every odd year) on my list.

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  2. I really don’t have any authors like that any more. I can no longer trust any authors to have the same world view as me, even in some basic areas. It doesn’t really put a damper on my reading, just means I don’t automatically buy/read something by author X. The closest author that fits that role though is Neal Asher, because I know where he stands philosophically (and while I disagree with him, I know he’ll stand his ground). But even then I don’t buy his books until I’ve read them.

    And with all of that doom and gloom, hahahahaha, I am glad you have an author that fits that place in your life. It certainly brightens up the day when you find out they have put out a new book/story!

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    • Doom and gloom from Bookstooge? Never! I don’t pay much attention to “world view” as long as the writing is still good. Unfortunately–and this is not always the case–a lot of authors later works aren’t quite as good as their earlier ones. I love Mitchell’s writing but I have to admit that his last two books didn’t blow me away as much as his first few did.
      I’ve never read anything by Neal Asher. I believe Ola is a fan, too. Definitely deserves investigation. Do you have a recommendation for a starter?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I know, right? I’m usually so cheery and upbeat. I don’t know what came over me there 😀

        Gridlinked, while his debut work (and it shows), is a good introduction to the Polity universe. Personally, I do recommend his Agent Cormac series (5 books beginning with Gridlinked) as the beginning. I’d also ask Ola as she approached Asher from a different perspective than me. But if you like ultra-violence in space, then Asher is for you.

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  3. Can you believe it? I haven’t read Mitchell yet. Cloud Atlas in on my TBR, but somehow I’m not very keen to start it 😉
    I must second Bookstooge here – I don’t think I have such an author anymore. I used to read everything by Llosa, Cortazar, later Cook, Asher, Tchaikovsky… I think the closest would be probably Zelazny – or not 😉

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  4. I don’t have any such authors either, anymore. KSR comes close, but his 2 last ones disapointed. I’m still hopeful about his new one later this year. I had a fad for Reynolds, but realized he turned to pulp. In Dutch there’s Berckmans, but he is dead. Maybe also mention M. John Harrison, but I have yet to read the bulk of his back catalogue. Also maybe Greg Egan, even though I’ve only read one book of his. Others I should mention: Banks (but I’m afraid to reread him) and Stephenson (also has a decline in quality lately).

    One the strength of Bone Clocks, I bought a bunch of other Mitchell instantly, but I didn’t finish Black Swan Green recently. I’m also not planning to read the new one, the subject matter doesn’t interest me (in fiction that is). Great cover though.

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    • You might enjoy Slade House. It’s a short book which features some of the elements from the Bone Clocks. It’s not as complex, though. An enjoyable read, anyway. The Thousand Autumns is brilliant historical fiction which also has connections to Bone Clocks. As you can probably tell, Mitchell enjoys connecting his stories with little cameos by his characters here and there. I just like his style and think he writes great characters🙂

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  5. For me that author is Jasper Fflorde .As I write this, his latest book, The Constant Rabbit, is on its way from Wroclaw (Poland, where it was printed?) via Amazon.uk to me. His last book, Early Riser, was okay, but I kept wishing that all his creativity had gone into Painting by Numbers, the second book of his never to be completed Shades of Grey series, instead.

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    • Thank you for commenting and thank you for bringing an author to my attention. I’d never heard of Jasper Fforde. I’m very interested to try one of his books now. Which one would you recommend to a new reader?

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      • Well, he’s one of those writers that you enjoy for clever, humorous writing set in very inventive worlds. He is best known for his Thursday Next series where the worlds of literature intersects our “real” world, or rather an alternate real world. However, my favorite book of his, and perhaps my favorite SF book, is Shades of Grey. It is set in Wales sometime in the future after some sort of catastrophic event. It is book that drops you into this world without explanations, and you just have to go along with it as the setting and premise slowly become clearer. It was the first of a planned trilogy, but because of poor sales, will not be completed, so it leaves a lot of questions unanswered. I like small stories rather than epics, and first person narratives, so your mileage may vary.

        I’ve not read any David Mitchell books, but I did enjoy some of Haruki Murakami books like Norwegian Wood, The Hard-Boiled Wonderland at the End of the World, and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

        The Constant Rabbit arrived today!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Thanks for your reply. Shades of Grey sounds good. I like stories where the author drops you straight into their world and expects you to keep up. William Gibson enjoys doing that. Gene Wolfe, too.

          I hope you enjoy The Constant Rabbit. I’ve just started reading Mitchell’s ‘Utopia Avenue’ and am enjoying it so far. Only 60 pages in and the characters already feel like real people. It’s set in 1960s London and is telling the story of how a band got together. I can’t wait o get back to it:)

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  6. I’ve always been curious about his books, especially Cloud Atlas, but never got around to it. I even postponed watching the movie! I’m glad to see that he’s at the top of the list for you. I personally don’t really have a insta-purchase author, but so far, I think Ed McDonald is up there for me. I would’ve said Scott Lynch too if he was a more regular writer but ever since his constant postponing of his books, I’ve also been taking my time indulging them hahaha Great post, Wakizashi.

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    • I can’t recommend Cloud Atlas enough! I love it, but it still comes down to personal tastes in the end. I hope you enjoy it if you try it.

      I haven’t read anything by Ed McDonald or Scott Lynch, but I’ve come across their names in friends’ reviews. They seem very popular. I’m enjoying Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself now and have heard that McDonald writes in a similar style.

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  7. I don’t think I currently have any authors that fit that bill, but I have many times in the past, and it’s a great feeling when you first open the pages of that new book. I’ve not read anything by Mitchell, but I do have an ebook of Cloud Atlas and have been curious to read it for some time. I also have several of Murakami’s works, but haven’t tried them yet, either. For someone in my position, which book by each author would you most recommend to a new reader of their works?

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    • Hmm… I would go for Ghostwritten or Cloud Atlas by Mitchell. For Murakami, try Hear the Wind Sing/Pinball, 1973, A Wild Sheep Chase or Norwegian Wood.

      Or if you have any interest in the tale of a new band coming together in swinging sixties London, try Mitchell’s new one, Utopia Avenue. I’m really enjoying it so far!

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  8. Oh wow, I had NOT heard of “The Future Library Project” . Thankyou for making me aware of it! What a concept. I’m glad that exists, but simultaneously annoyed that I won’t be around to have a copy of “From me flows what you call time” !!!

    Anyway, I just had to drop in and say something, as I don’t have anyone in my immediate environment to fangirl over David Mitchell with. He’s definitely my favourite author at the moment. I can’t describe the excitement I felt when I received my copy of “Utopia Avenue” in the mail. As you’d already know, ( I just read your review) it did NOT disappoint!

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