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Cloud Atlas Paperback – Aug 17 2004

3.9 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage Canada; First edition (Aug. 17 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0676974945
  • ISBN-13: 978-0676974942
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 2.7 x 21.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 612 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #133,053 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

From Amazon

It's hard not to become ensnared by words beginning with the letter B, when attempting to describe Cloud Atlas, David Mitchell's third novel. It's a big book, for start, bold in scope and execution--a bravura literary performance, possibly. (Let's steer clear of breathtaking for now.) Then, of course, Mitchell was among Granta's Best of Young British Novelists and his second novel number9dreamwas shortlisted for the Booker Prize. Characters with birthmarks in the shape of comets are a motif; as are boats. Oh and one of the six narratives strands of the book--where coincidentally Robert Frobisher, a young composer, dreams up "a sextet for overlapping soloists" entitled Cloud Atlas--is set in Belgium, not far from Bruges. (See what I mean?)

Structured rather akin to a Chinese puzzle or a set of Matrioshka dolls, there are dazzling shifts in genre and voice and the stories leak into each other with incidents and people being passed on like batons in a relay race. The 19th-century journals of an American notary in the Pacific that open the novel are subsequently unearthed 80 years later on by Frobisher in the library of the ageing, syphilitic maestro he's trying to fleece. Frobisher's waspish letters to his old Cambridge crony, Rufus Sexsmith, in turn surface when Rufus, (by the 1970s a leading nuclear scientist) is murdered. A novelistic account of the journalist Luisa Rey's investigation into Rufus' death finds its way to Timothy Cavendish, a London vanity publisher with an author who has an ingenious method of silencing a snide reviewer. And in a near-dystopian Blade Runner-esque future, a genetically engineered fast food waitress sees a movie based on Cavendish's unfortunate internment in a Hull retirement home. (Cavendish himself wonders how a director called Lars might wish to tackle his plight). All this is less tricky than it sounds, only the lone "Zachary" chapter, told in Pacific Islander dialect (all "dingos'n'ravens", "brekker" and "f'llowin'"s) is an exercise in style too far. Not all the threads quite connect but nonetheless Mitchell binds them into a quite spellbinding rumination on human nature, power, oppression, race, colonialism and consumerism. --Travis Elborough

Review

INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER
#1 NATIONAL BESTSELLER
FINALIST FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE INTERNATIONAL IMPAC DUBLIN LITERARY AWARD
A Times (UK) Best Book of the Decade
A New York Times Notable Book
Globe and Mail 100 Best Book
Longlisted for the IMPAC Award


“[David] Mitchell is, clearly, a genius. He writes as though at the helm of some perpetual dream machine, can evidently do anything, and his ambition is written in magma across this novel’s every page.” The New York Times Book Review
 
“One of those how-the-holy-hell-did-he-do-it? modern classics that no doubt is—and should be—read by any student of contemporary literature.” Dave Eggers
 
“Wildly entertaining...a head rush, both action-packed and chillingly ruminative.” People
 
“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.” Michael Chabon
 
Cloud Atlas ought to make [Mitchell] famous on both sides of the Atlantic as a writer whose fearlessness is matched by his talent.” The Washington Post Book World
 
“Thrilling.... One of the biggest joys in Cloud Atlas is watching Mitchell sashay from genre to genre without a hitch in his dance step.” Boston Sunday Globe
 
“Grand and elaborate...[Mitchell] creates a world and language at once foreign and strange, yet strikingly familiar and intimate.” Los Angeles Times

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