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on April 18, 2002
David Mitchell's second novel tells us a story of a young Japanese man Eiji Miyake who arrives in modern megapolitan Tokyo in search of his father who repudiated him long ago. That forms an outline of the book which consists of nine parts. The structure of the novel and some of its plotlines are similar to the ones of the author's first novel "Ghostwritten": every part has certain degree of independence (even linguistic) but the plot of the second novel is undoubtedly more coherent and harmonious than of the first one.
Nine different parts of "number9dream" are like disparate edges of the human life in the modern world, they supersede one another: a mixture of sci-fi story with hero's vindictive dreams, sentimental flashbacks of hero's early life with his late beloved twin sister, a dive into erotical nightlife of the modern megapolis, a Yakuza story, a dystopian fantasy with excellent verbal tightrope-walking (which, I believe, played a substantial role in novel's shortlisting for the Booker Prize 2001), meditation about recent Japanese history and meaning of human existence, reiteration of some previous elements with noticeable mob tints, an apokalyptic denouement designed as a secession of dreams, and - silence. Having in mind such genre and wordy diversity every reader can find in the novel something to enjoy or ponder over (personally I prefer Goatwriter's language-twisting Study of Tales and historico-philosophical Kai Ten). Though the book consists of such different parts, it has sufficiently strict plot which joins the kaleidoscope of its separate parts in a kind of bildungsroman, the author of which tries to put eternal questions of human existence using postmodern literary gamut of the 21st century.
Yet the book has some weak points. First, the main love story of the novel is a vapid replica of the brilliant Tokyo chapter of author'r first novel. Second, both novels have one visible flaw - they lack powerful (or even proper) ending. I sincerely hope the next David Mitchell's novel will surmount these literary omissions.
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on July 5, 2008
Okay, I realise (judging from some of the other reviews) that this novel will NOT appeal to everyone, but I thought it was brilliant. I loved the "manga" quality. And if anyone can hold such a wildly diverse novel together, it's David Mitchell. I think he's one of the world's outstanding young writers, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this eccentric, compelling work!
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