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Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas (original 2004; edition 2004)

by David Mitchell

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
12,202517207 (4.13)4 / 1185
Title:Cloud Atlas
Authors:David Mitchell
Info:Vintage Canada (2004), Paperback, 528 pages
Collections:read in 2012, Your library

Work details

Cloud Atlas: A Novel by David Mitchell (Author) (2004)

  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: A Novel by David Mitchell (pgmcc)
    pgmcc: Really enjoyable set of related stories with the author's well deomonstrated skill
  3. 71
    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. 40
    Black Swan Green by David Mitchell (PghDragonMan)
  5. 51
    Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (Rynooo, browner56, pfeldman)
    browner56: Highly imaginative works, particularly the phonetic recreations of the English language
  6. 40
    Number9Dream by David Mitchell (PghDragonMan)
  7. 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.
  8. 30
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (JenMDB)
  9. 30
    Life After Life by Kate Atkinson (JenMDB, sturlington)
    sturlington: Both have unusual narrative structures and explore the theme of reincarnation.
  10. 31
    Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (novelcommentary)
  11. 20
    The Children of Men by P. D. James (JenMDB)
  12. 10
    TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (suniru)
  13. 32
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (generalkala)
    generalkala: Similar multi-strand, multi-era novel.
  14. 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.
  15. 10
    Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru (Tinwara)
  16. 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.
  17. 10
    The Islanders by Christopher Priest (tetrachromat)
  18. 21
    Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (Anonymous user)
  19. 00
    Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann (JuliaMaria)
  20. 00
    Join by Steve Toutonghi (47degreesnorth)

(see all 29 recommendations)


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English (502)  Dutch (5)  French (3)  Spanish (2)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  Czech (1)  German (1)  All languages (516)
Showing 1-5 of 502 (next | show all)
This literary work is so brilliant that it is sometimes difficult to read. I'm very glad I persevered, because it was amazing, but in the end I still felt a little unsatisfied, like the story wasn't actually concluded. I recognize that this was probably the author's intent, given the stream-of-history nature of the book, but I was left with mixed feelings, which is why I gave it 4 stars instead of 5. Still, I would recommend it to anyone looking to sink into a shockingly intelligent, challenging journey.

Update: After attending a book discussion and hearing all the different facets that stood out for other people, I appreciate more the complexity of the book. I have changed my rating to five stars. ( )
1 vote trwm | Oct 6, 2016 |
I missed something about this book. it didn't draw any conclusion about the way the stories connect (or even if they do). I guess I need things to be more straightforward. I feel like I didn't really understand what the book wanted to say. ( )
  avalinah | Sep 11, 2016 |
Wow…where do I even begin?

A few years ago, I found myself watching this movie called Cloud Atlas. I had no idea what it was about, but heard some good things about it, and a bunch of not so good things. Still, I love movies that require the viewer to think on a deeper level than your average story plot line. Cloud Atlas did that. I watched it. I was confused. I continued watching it. I was still confused. I finished it. I was confused…but at the same time it made total sense. It was this epiphany of understanding, of being able to relate myself to the characters and to relate them to one another. It just made sense why they portrayed the characters the way they did (using the same actors across the different time periods). It just…made sense. I was at peace.

Fast forward a few years later. It had been long enough that I didn't quite remember the major events that happened in the movie, so I decided to pick the book up and give it a read. And what a trip it was. Now, if you've seen the movie adaptation, it completely made sense to me why it was structured the way it was. Although a bit confusing at times, it gave the viewer a chance to simultaneously observe the six different stories that were happening. However, the book structures itself in the form of a nesting doll:

[The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing => Letters from Zedelghem =>The First Luisa Rey Mystery => The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish =>An Orison of Sonmi 451 => Sloosha's Crossin' An' Ev'Rythin' After
And with that structure, you have the famed Cloud Atlas Sextet. It's weird. It's confusing. It's overly complex. But it works. And that's what I love about it. As a reader, sometimes I love to struggle through various styles of writings because, by the end of it all, there's a sense of accomplishment. Not just with making through the reading, but with having gone through a whole cathartic experience. I really did enjoy this piece.

At times, the stories may seem disjointed and only vaguely connected (the comet birthmark), but as you get to know these characters and get a sense of who and what they represent in a macroscopic scale, you will begin to draw parallels on your own. Having previously seen the movie, I think I made these connections much earlier on. The same actors represent, spiritually, the same characters across time spans.

It's a long read, and it's not for the faint of heart. But if you can get through this, you'll thank yourself in the end. It was truly a pleasure to read a piece of literature so wonderful. ( )
  jms001 | Sep 10, 2016 |
Not great literature, but masquerades as such so seductively that I wouldn't begrudge anyone for disagreeing. I always looked forward to every next page, and wanted to return to it when I wasn't reading. ( )
  valzi | Sep 7, 2016 |
Cloud Atlas is a perfect novel. I love everything about it. Even the novels structure reads like a piece of music rising up to crescendo, falling down into a diminuendo and ending in a glorious and calm finale. It’s about more than the same named piece of music that makes up its title. The music runs through the core of many of these stories where facts and events barely overlap but come together into one continuum of history. This novels is very “big picture” and at its heart it’s about the best and the worst of us and how those things survive any age. ( )
  RachelRY | Aug 23, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 502 (next | show all)
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 (15 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mitchell, DavidAuthorprimary 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
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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

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

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 6 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-apocalyptic world.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 7 descriptions

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