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Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas (original 2004; edition 2004)

by David Mitchell

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,524425271 (4.15)4 / 974
Title:Cloud Atlas
Authors:David Mitchell
Info:Vintage Canada (2004), Paperback, 528 pages
Collections:Your library

Work details

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (2004)

  1. 110
    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. 82
    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. 61
    The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson (one-horse.library, PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: A theme of reincarnation used to balance Karma flows through the story.
  4. 94
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (sturlington)
  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. 52
    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (sturlington)
  8. 30
    Black Swan Green by David Mitchell (PghDragonMan)
  9. 41
    Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (novelcommentary)
  10. 20
    The Islanders by Christopher Priest (tetrachromat)
  11. 20
    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.
  12. 64
    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.
  13. 20
    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.
  14. 20
    Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru (Tinwara)
  15. 10
    A History of the World in 10½ Chapters by Julian Barnes (suniru)
  16. 10
    TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (suniru)
  17. 10
    Mobius Dick by Andrew Crumey (alzo)
  18. 11
    The Island of the Day Before by Umberto Eco (hippietrail)
  19. 00
    Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess (ZenonRobledo)
    ZenonRobledo: I have the feeling Earthly Powers by Anthony Burgess inspired David Mitchell when writing Cloud Atlas. Anyone else have thoughts on the matter?
  20. 11
    Make Room! Make Room! by Harry Harrison (hippietrail)

(see all 23 recommendations)


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English (414)  Dutch (4)  Finnish (1)  Danish (1)  Spanish (1)  German (1)  Czech (1)  All languages (423)
Showing 1-5 of 414 (next | show all)
"Cloud Atlas" is one of the most interesting and ambitious books that I have read. Yes, it was challenging; but I didn't consider it to be as deliberately difficult as the rich but impenetrable style (to me, at least) of, for example, "One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Look elsewhere for a plot summary. What mattered to me was the story's focus on the spirits of six somehow-related protagonists and the thirst for freedom which they evinced despite the prevailing conventions and unforgiving authorities of their respective times. This gusto infuses, animates, and unites the entire book. How interesting it was to see the ways in which it manifested itself in the different stories played out over a course of hundreds of years.

The book's closing words, in which the chronologically eldest protagonist is assailed by a family member for living a life which "amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean", aptly reinforces and sums the author's thesis and intent: "Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?"

I really liked Mitchell on the strength of "Black Swan Green". This is an entirely different book, but it gave me added respect for the author and piqued my interest in reading more of his writing. ( )
  EpicTale | Aug 13, 2014 |
This is an amazing book, beautifully written and carefully constructed. It grips you as you read it, impelling you to devour it, while still making you sorry it's ever going to end. The author's talent and imagination dazzles.

It has taken me ten years since publication to read it, but the book seems as awe-inspiring as it must have been the day it was published. This is a truly great modern novel. ( )
  Laura400 | Aug 10, 2014 |
I'd had this book sitting in a drawer for a long time. Every time I went to pick it up all I could see was Tom Hanks's face -- the edition I had wasn't a movie tie-in version, but I'd made the mistake of looking at one in the shop one day long ago and couldn't get it out of my head.
And so, when I held my breath and dove in and sunk straight into the first few pages of Ewing's journal in the Pacific, I... I nearly didn't make it. I nearly surfaced, a page or two in, panicking that I was getting into a great mess of a matryoshka doll (as the cover had threatened) that just wouldn't have any air deep down in there.
But I stuck it out. And man oh man.
I loved this book. I loved the structure, I loved being enveloped as each story opened from the next like a flower-based envelope. And when I hit the center and I emerged, blinking, back into the Orison of 451, a little part of me was sad that it was all unravelling and that I'd soon be back with Adam Ewing in his journal and then I'd be back out into the world again. I can't say that I enjoyed one story more than the others, the little threads connecting each were little joys unto themselves in larger, full narratives that I quickly got lost in, leaving the previous story line behind.
The language in each section was beautiful and well-suited to its period and situation. I only caught myself in the center, the meat of it all, wishing maybe we had less of the vernacular, though it did remind me of Michael Joyce's playing with language in The Sonatas of Saint Francis (http://supertart.com/sonatas/), island setting and all (disclaimer: I worked with Michael on the Sonatas and provide the hosting for it). But Zachry's story is so heart breaking and engaging I got sucked in, from his introduction to Old Georgie at the crossing to his baby to what's to become of his valley, and the light that story casts down on Somni 451's story echoes along through the remainder of our stories as they're wrapped up. I wasn't let down at a single closure to any of the stories, either, it was truly like watching successive waves of the sea crash forward into their predecessor and the beach and then tumble with them back out to the open ocean, as natural and awe-inspiring. ( )
  mhanlon | Jul 30, 2014 |
Forse mi aspettavo qualcosa di diverso, ma alla fine sono rimasto con l'amaro in bocca. Storie che vengono interrotte e poi riprese, storie apparentemente diverse che in realtà poi si scoprono simili... Alla fine il libro è piuttosto piacevole, ma non mi ha convinto del tutto ( )
  cecca | Jul 28, 2014 |
Six related stories set in different time periods (the 19th century, the 1930s, the 1970s, the present, two future times).

I saw the film first and came away baffled, but was told that the book was much better. It was certainly more comprehensible as the relationships between the different stories became clearer. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Jul 16, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 414 (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
David Mitchellprimary 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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Important places
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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
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:09 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan ?s California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified "dinery server" on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilisation -- the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other ?s echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

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Average: (4.15)
0.5 3
1 43
1.5 8
2 119
2.5 45
3 369
3.5 161
4 996
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