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Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas (original 2004; edition 2004)

by David Mitchell

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
10,881444259 (4.15)4 / 1065
Title:Cloud Atlas
Authors:David Mitchell
Info:Vintage Canada (2004), Paperback, 528 pages
Collections:Kindle, Read but unowned
Tags:fiction, 1001 books, made into a movie, kindle, 21st century, 2004, 2000s

Work details

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (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. 102
    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. 104
    Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood (sturlington)
  4. 71
    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.
  5. 40
    Black Swan Green 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
    Number9Dream by David Mitchell (PghDragonMan)
  8. 52
    A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (sturlington)
  9. 41
    Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann (novelcommentary)
  10. 74
    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.
  11. 20
    TransAtlantic by Colum McCann (suniru)
  12. 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.
  13. 20
    The Islanders by Christopher Priest (tetrachromat)
  14. 20
    Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru (Tinwara)
  15. 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.
  16. 10
    The Children of Men by P. D. James (JenMDB)
  17. 10
    A History of the World in 10½ Chapters by Julian Barnes (suniru)
  18. 10
    Mobius Dick by Andrew Crumey (alzo)
  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. 88
    Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies by Jared Diamond (hippietrail)

(see all 27 recommendations)


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English (433)  Dutch (4)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  Spanish (1)  Czech (1)  French (1)  German (1)  All languages (443)
Showing 1-5 of 433 (next | show all)
About half of the stories were mildly interesting, but on the whole, there's no reason for this book to be as lauded as it is. My theory behind it's astounding reputation is this:

Critics mistook unique/creative for aesthetically phenomenal. The literati took them at their word and didn't want to admit their own "ignorance" by not loving it as much as the critics, so they further praised it. The same happened all the way down the line till you get to the "OMG! It isn't good until it's a movie" crowd.
That's my theory, at least. ( )
  benuathanasia | Jan 3, 2015 |
The unusual form worked, way better than I thought it would. Don't give up if you're having a hard time with one of the narrators - the next one will probably suit you better. ( )
  lavaturtle | Dec 31, 2014 |
This was an intriguing book that is put together in a very creative way. There are basically six stories ranging from the 1800's to the future nested within each other. Each story is influenced by the story before it.

This is a very creative idea and I definitely recognize how much work went into writing each story in the language/style of the era that it takes place in.

I did enjoy the book. However, it is definitely not an easy read. The two stories that took place in the far past and the far future were incredibly hard to read given how they were written. I think that was kind of the point, to show how humanity had come full circle in its ignorance and brutality, still it definitely took some time to read and decipher (lots of letters are dropped out and there is a lot of slang).

I really did enjoy a couple of the stories. The First Luisa Rey Mystery was a wonderful mystery with some interesting elements. The Orison of Somni-451 was also a very engaging story about an android who started to grow and develop in a very human way. Then there were others I did not enjoy. It was a bit like reading an anthology where you breeze through the stories you love and struggle through the ones you just can’t engage in.

I am not going to go into all of the discussion about reincarnation and all of the other themes this book brings into the story. There are a million other people who have analyzed this book to death. I did really enjoy how each story influenced the story that came after it in some significant way. This book has a lot going on at multiple levels and it is definitely one that makes you think.

There is definitely an adult story. There is a lot of violence and some rape in here, so just be aware of that.

Overall this was a wonderful idea, with some decent stories. It is not an easy read or even an enjoyable one at times. I shudder to think how many kids in college are going to be forced to read this book because of the novelty of the story structure. In the end I am glad I read it, but it isn’t something I will ever pick up and read again. ( )
  krau0098 | Dec 7, 2014 |
This book is profound and worth the time of exploration. I think that the movie might be interesting as well. ( )
  Gregorio_Roth | Dec 5, 2014 |
This book is profound and worth the time of exploration. I think that the movie might be interesting as well. ( )
  Gregorio_Roth | Dec 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 433 (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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Original title
Alternative titles
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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
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:55:09 -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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