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Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas (2004)

by David Mitchell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
13,591566264 (4.12)4 / 1266
  1. 120
    If on a Winter's Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino (Ludi_Ling)
    Ludi_Ling: Different yet both well-written approaches to meta-fiction.
  2. 112
    The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (pgmcc)
    pgmcc: Really enjoyable set of related stories with the author's well deomonstrated skill
  3. 81
    The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson (TomWaitsTables, PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: A theme of reincarnation used to balance Karma flows through the story.
  4. 84
    A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan (jbvm, souloftherose)
    jbvm: Without giving anything away, after you've read both you'll understand my recommendation.
    souloftherose: Both novels are occasionally experimental in style with interconnected short stories. They are also both very good.
  5. 40
    Number9Dream by David Mitchell (PghDragonMan)
  6. 51
    Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (Rynooo, browner56, pfeldman)
    browner56: Highly imaginative works, particularly the phonetic recreations of the English language
  7. 40
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (JenMDB)
  8. 30
    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (JenMDB, sturlington)
    sturlington: Both have unusual narrative structures and explore the theme of reincarnation.
  9. 30
    Black Swan Green by David Mitchell (PghDragonMan)
  10. 20
    Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru (Tinwara)
  11. 31
    Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (novelcommentary)
  12. 21
    The Children of Men by P. D. James (JenMDB)
  13. 32
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Anonymous user)
  14. 10
    TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (suniru)
  15. 32
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (generalkala)
    generalkala: Similar multi-strand, multi-era novel.
  16. 10
    The Islanders by Christopher Priest (tetrachromat)
  17. 10
    Girl Reading by Katie Ward (rarm)
    rarm: Girl Reading isn't as intricately constructed as Cloud Atlas, but both books use linked stories to carry a theme through the centuries and into the future.
  18. 10
    The Stone Gods by Jeanette Winterson (Anonymous user)
  19. 10
    The Castle of Crossed Destinies by Italo Calvino (Ludi_Ling)
    Ludi_Ling: For those interested in disparate yet intertwining narratives of a somewhat fantastical nature.
  20. 00
    Join by Steve Toutonghi (47degreesnorth)

(see all 31 recommendations)


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English (547)  Dutch (6)  French (3)  German (3)  Spanish (2)  Finnish (1)  Czech (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (564)
Showing 1-5 of 547 (next | show all)
Cloud Atlas is really six novels in one, but each novel relates to the others in a way that becomes apparent to the reader. I don't want to say much more than that about the nature of the novels' relationships to each other because I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't read it before.

The brilliance of the novel is that each novel takes place at a different time from the others, in a different location from the others, and is written in a different style from the others, and Mitchell does this perfectly. He starts the reader off in a Melville-ian, nineteenth century shipping tale, and by the sixth section he spits the author out into a post-apocolyptic future that would make Margaret Atwood proud. Each section between the two takes place in another time period and is written as a different genre or style. It's an incredible accomplishment.

The other thing that needs to be said about Cloud Atlas is that it is actually good. It would be one thing to try and accomplish writing this for the sake of art or even the sake of accomplishment. It is quite another thing to attempt it and have the final product be enjoyable for the reader to read, and I loved reading this book. I couldn't put it down. ( )
1 vote fuzzy_patters | Jan 16, 2019 |
This book has won nebula Award for best novel and was a basis of the movie with the same name. it is built as an onion sliced in half, namely it starts from the outer layer and proceeds with each following story mentioning something from an earlier one up to the middle of the book, where the core story is located. Then in proceeds in reverse direction. Most likely this artistic gimmick was made to show that the time is not linear, that core story may well be set prior to the first layer and that we are the limited number of actors, in a play without definite scenario but with pre-set roles. An interesting technique, but I cannot say it makes an easy read.
The novel is made even convoluted by attempts of the writer to set specific styles for each of the layers, from 1835 to far future, where both grammar and dictionary changed. For the non-native speaker like me the beauty of this is lost (if it was there).
The first layer is a diary of the US lawyer with strong religious views, who travels South Seas in order to locate the Australian beneficiary of a will executed in California. He hears stories and personally witnesses woes of colonialism, slavery and how the ‘dregs of Europe’ destroy the old traditional societies.
The second layer consists of letters by an English poor musician and composer to his partner, written in 1931 from Belgium, where he helps to old famous composer. An interesting worldview, where the protagonists observes the outside world as a musical work. He read the diary from the first
The third layer is a thriller/mystery story set in 1976, where an investigative journalist finds that a nuclear plant, which is about to start working, is potentially unsafe. The crooked fat cats are o.k. with killing everyone, who can spill the truth. She listens to the music from the second layer
The fourth is present day (1990s) story of old Englishmen, who worked his whole life in book business, ghostwriting biographies, which are then printed usually with just enough copies to gift to all relatives of the [assumed] author. However, by the end of his career he hits gold.
The fifth layer is the only one, which can be dubbed ‘true’ SF. In future Korea a corpocratic society is built on the labor of slave clones, called fabricants. One of the fabricants gets a possibility to investigate this consumerist society from within.
The core-most layer follows a member of tribe (strangely reminiscent of the tribe, described in the first layer), in post-apoc world, where almost all old knowledge is lost. The hardest to read language-wise, for the author tries to show that the language has changed considerably.

The overreaching ideas are that slavery, consumerism and robber barons capitalism are bad. None of this is actually new, so I don’t think that the novel is really ‘a new word’ in either ideas or execution.
( )
  Oleksandr_Zholud | Jan 9, 2019 |
At first I quite enjoyed reading this book but the further I got into it , it dragged on. I forced myself to finish it.
The centre chapter was the worst. and some of the revealing chapters left me with more questions than answers. ( )
  JulesGDSide | Nov 29, 2018 |
i really enjoyed this book ( )
  decaturmamaof2 | Nov 28, 2018 |
I'm not quite sure where to begin reviewing this novel. There is so much to unpack. It's a novel with six stories told within it, but each is interrelated without involving the same characters or without taking place during the same time frame. That is about as far as I can explain the structure of the novel without spoiling it.

When it is difficult to review a book without spoiling it, an alternative tact is to discuss its genre or type of book that it is. This is again problematic as each story is written in a different style and even in a different voice from the other stories. The style is that of a mix of well-crafted styles.

A third focus for reviewing the novel is by focussing on characterization, and this is where it should become apparent to someone who has not read the book why this book is so difficult to review without spoilers. The book begins with Adam Ewing, a notary who is amidst a nineteenth century nautical tale living with other characters from that era. Then the reader is thrust into a 1930s series of letters by Robert Frobisher, a would be composer living in 1930s Belgium with a composer, Vyvyan Ayrs and his wife Jocasta. As the reader gets into Frobisher's story, the reader is descended into a Cold War era world of intrigue surrounding a young reporter named Luisa Rey. The book continues like this with the constant changing of characters and setting before it unwinds back to the beginning, which is impossible to explain without spoiling it for others who haven't read it.

Perhaps the best way to tackle a review like this is to just say whether you liked it, and I did. It was wonderful. There were so many subtle hints about what was happening with the structure and the plot of the novel that it slowly unwinded in my mind until I began to recognize what was happening. It ended not with a flourish but rather with a thought provoking finish about our place in the world and why we are here. It was brilliant. I highly recommend it. ( )
  fuzzy_patters | Nov 19, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 547 (next | show all)
It felt like reading multiple stories from six different authors all on a common theme, yet all these disparate characters connect, their fates intertwine, and their souls drift across time like clouds across a globe.
Cloud Atlas is powerful and elegant because of Mitchell's understanding of the way we respond to those fundamental and primitive stories we tell about good and evil, love and destruction, beginnings and ends. He isn't afraid to jerk tears or ratchet up suspense - he understands that's what we make stories for.

» Add other authors (14 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mitchell, Davidprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Campbell, CassandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guest, Kim MaiNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heyborne, KirbyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthews, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mijn, Aad van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oldenburg, VolkerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For Hana and her grandparents.
First words
Beyond the Indian hamlet, upon a forlorn strand, I happened on a trail of recent footprints.
Oh, once you've been initiated into the Elderly, the world doesn't want you back.
Sometimes the fluffy bunny of incredulity zooms around the bend so rapidly that the greyhound of language is left, agog, in the starting cage.
The stationmaster's whistle blew on time, the locomotive strained like a gouty proctor on the pot before heaving itself into motion.
"Are you mad?"
Always a trickier question than it looks. "I doubt it."
Souls cross ages like clouds cross skies.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
The book consists of six nested stories that take us from the remote South Pacific in the nineteenth century to a distant, post-apocalyptic future. Each tale is revealed to be a story that is read (or watched) by the main character in the next.
Haiku summary
Looping, linking time/
chaining space, land seasalt drifting/
visual lyric threads
The literary
equivalent of Marmite –
you love or hate it.

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375507256, Paperback)

Now a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant, and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer

A postmodern visionary who is also a master of styles of genres, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian lore of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction that reveals how disparate people connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.
“[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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:11 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Recounts the connected stories of people from the past and the distant future, from a nineteenth-century notary and an investigative journalist in the 1970s to a young man who searches for meaning in a post-apocalayptic world.

» see all 9 descriptions

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