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Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel by Anthony Doerr
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Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel (original 2021; edition 2021)

by Anthony Doerr (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,0881136,635 (4.23)152
"From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of perhaps the most bestselling and beloved literary fiction of our time comes a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring novel about children on the cusp of adulthood in a broken world, who find resilience, hope, and story. The heroes of Cloud Cuckoo Land are children trying to figure out the world around them, and to survive. In the besieged city of Constantinople in 1453, in a public library in Lakeport, Idaho, today, and on a spaceship bound for a distant exoplanet decades from now, an ancient text provides solace and the most profound human connection to characters in peril. They all learn the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to the paradise of Cloud Cuckoo Land, a better world. Twelve-year-old Anna lives in a convent where women toil all day embroidering the robes of priests. She learns to read from an old Greek tutor she encounters on her errands in the city. In an abandoned priory, she finds a stash of old books. One is Aethon's story, which she reads to her sister as the walls of Constantinople are bombarded by armies of Saracens. Anna escapes, carrying only a small sack with bread, salt fish-and the book. Outside the city walls, Anna meets Omeir, a village boy who was conscripted, along with his beloved pair of oxen, to fight in the Sultan's conquest. His oxen have died; he has deserted. In Lakeport, Idaho, in 2020, Seymour, a young activist bent on saving the earth, sits in the public library with two homemade bombs in pressure cookers-another siege. Upstairs, eighty-five-year old Zeno, a former prisoner-of-war, and an amateur translator, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon's adventures. On an interstellar ark called The Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault with sacks of Nourish powder and access to all the information in the world-or so she is told. She knows Aethon's story through her father, who has sequestered her to protect her. Konstance, encased on a spaceship decades from now, has never lived on our beloved Earth. Alone in a vault with sacks of Nourish powder and access to "all the information in the world," she knows Aethon's storythrough her father. Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All the Light We Cannot See, Konstance, Anna, Omeir, Seymour, the young Zeno, the children in the library are dreamers and misfits on the cusp of adulthood in a world the grown-ups have broken. They through their own resilience and resourcefulness, and through story. Dedicated to "the librarians then, now, and in the years to come," Anthony Doerr's Cloud Cuckoo Land is about the power of story and the astonishing survival of the physical book when for thousands of years they were so rare and so feared, dying, as one character says, "in fires or floods or in the mouths of worms or at the whims of tyrants." It is a hauntingly beautiful and redemptive novel about stewardship-of the book, of the Earth, of the human heart"--… (more)
Member:ccharris
Title:Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel
Authors:Anthony Doerr (Author)
Info:Scribner (2021), Edition: First Edition, 640 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:*
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Work Information

Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (2021)

  1. 40
    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (nicole_a_davis)
    nicole_a_davis: Both have stories that span multiple time periods and are seemingly unconnected until the end.
  2. 30
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (JenMDB)
  3. 10
    The Golden Ass by Apuleius (M_Clark)
    M_Clark: The Golden Ass is the basis, together with The Birds, for the ancient story Cloud Cuckoo Land. It also happens to be a tremendously entertaining novel from the days of the Roman Empire.
  4. 10
    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (JenMDB)
  5. 10
    Bewilderment by Richard Powers (Tinwara)
    Tinwara: Seymour in Cloud Cuckoo Land strongly reminded me of the young Robin in Bewilderment. If Seymour was your favorite character in Cloud Cuckoo Land, go for Bewilderment next!
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» See also 152 mentions

English (107)  Dutch (2)  All languages (109)
Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
This book will be a four star for you if you like multiple characters and timelines and trying to figure out how they all connect. If you also relish slow developing rich details of both ancient and future events and the keepers of books, knowledge, and the environment of our world, you will find this a five star story. Anthony Doerr excels at creating the character voice of a very young child as he did in All the Light We Cannot See. He follows several characters beyond early childhood into coming of age, maturity, and old age. The world around them can be hard to figure out, but in the end they each find a few miracles, and a purpose, in the midst of the painful madness. In the end they are all connected in a less than cliche way. For readers who enjoy the commitment and the journey! ( )
  WiserWisegirl | Dec 2, 2022 |
This book will be a four star for you if you like multiple characters and timelines and trying to figure out how they all connect. If you also relish slow developing rich details of both ancient and future events and the keepers of books, knowledge, and the environment of our world, you will find this a five star story. Anthony Doerr excels at creating the character voice of a very young child as he did in All the Light We Cannot See. He follows several characters beyond early childhood into coming of age, maturity, and old age. The world around them can be hard to figure out, but in the end they each find a few miracles, and a purpose, in the midst of the painful madness. In the end they are all connected in a less than cliche way. For readers who enjoy the commitment and the journey! ( )
  WiserWisegirl | Dec 2, 2022 |
Amazingly weird. Recommended! ( )
  DonnaMarieMerritt | Nov 29, 2022 |
A couple of us really loved this book, and others not so much. It was really hard to get into, and the reader really needs to think about how the different stories and time periods intertwine with themes of preservation of books, yearning for a false utopia, lies and misperceptions, etc. ( )
  BookBuddies | Nov 18, 2022 |
Whew. Long, but a good novel that spans centuries and celebrates stories, books, libraries, the natural world, and finding home. ( )
  KatyBee | Nov 15, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 107 (next | show all)
Yes, libraries are awesome, and we all love books. But the artificial convolutedness of “Cloud Cuckoo Land” is not enough to confer any additional depth on Doerr’s simple, belabored theme, a theme that thumps through the novel insisting that every character kneel in reverent submission.
added by Lemeritus | editThe Washington Post, Ronald Charles (pay site) (Sep 28, 2021)
 
Doerr does not overstate the importance of the story-within-a-story. If anything, he makes a point of reminding us again and again how easy it is for books to be lost across the ages — the staggering number of histories, tales, songs, account books, speeches, poems and stories that never made it through the meatgrinder of history....There are no heroes or villains, no global plots, no secret societies bent on controlling this lost manuscript. There's just a book thief, a boy and his ox, a messed-up kid who lost his best friend, a man putting on a children's play, a girl talking to a supercomputer....It is a book about books, a story about stories. It is tragedy and comedy and myth and fable and a warning and a comfort all at the same time. It says, Life is hard. Everyone believes the world is ending all the time. But so far, all of them have been wrong.It says that if stories can survive, maybe we can, too.
 
This is a novel so full that, if it can be said to be 'about' anything, perhaps it is about how things survive by chance, and through love. But the book is also keenly aware of the fact that humans have basically exhausted our chances, and it is time for a fierce and tenacious love to step up – by sharing and passing on what is mended and changed, like Diogenes’s book, with its delights and consolations – to save what we still have on Earth, and what is ours, as well as what we enjoy here, though it isn’t ours ... With all its tenderness for human life and animal life, and libraries, this novel nevertheless acknowledges that civilisation continues to insist on not going anywhere without packing its poisons.
 
“Cloud Cuckoo Land" ... is, among other things, a paean to the nameless people who have played a role in the transmission of ancient texts and preserved the tales they tell. But it’s also about the consolations of stories and the balm they have provided for millenniums. It’s a wildly inventive novel that teems with life, straddles an enormous range of experience and learning, and embodies the storytelling gifts that it celebrates. It also pulls off a resolution that feels both surprising and inevitable, and that compels you back to the opening of the book with a head-shake of admiration at the Swiss-watchery of its construction.
added by Lemeritus | editNew York Times, Marcel Theroux (pay site) (Sep 24, 2021)
 
“Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you” wrote Antonius Diogenes at the end of the first century C.E.—and millennia later, Pulitzer Prize winner Doerr is his fitting heir. Around Diogenes' manuscript, "Cloud Cuckoo Land"—the author did exist, but the text is invented—Doerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space....As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world.
added by Lemeritus | editKirkus Reviews (Jun 29, 2021)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony Doerrprimary authorall editionscalculated
Ireland, MarinNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Chorus Leader: To work, men. How do you propose to name our city?

Peisetairos: How about Sparta? That’s a grand old name with a fine pretentious ring.

Euelpides: Great Hercules, call my city Sparta? I wouldn’t even insult my mattress by giving it a name like Sparta.

Peisetairos: Well, what do you suggest instead?

Chorus Leader: Something big, smacking of the clouds. A pinch of fluff and rare air, a swollen sound.

Peisetairos: I’ve got it! Listen—Cloud Cuckoo Land!

—Aristophanes, The Birds, 414 B.C.E.
Dedication
For the librarians
then, now, and in the years to come/
First words
Prologue

For my dearest niece with hope that this brings you health and light
A fourteen-year-old girl sits cross-legged on the floor of a circular vault. A mass of curls haloes her head; her socks are full of holes. This is Konstance.
Quotations
But books, like people, die. They die in fires or floods or in the mouths of worms or at the whims of tyrants. If they are not safeguarded, they go out of the world. And when a book goes out of the world, the memory dies a second death.
Or maybe, like all lunatics, the shepherd made his own truth, and so for him, true it was.
Each sign signifies a sound, and to link sounds is to form words, and to link words is to construct worlds.
“Boil the words you already know down to their bones,” Rex says, “and usually you find the ancients sitting there at the bottom of the pot, staring back up.”
Anna remembers something Licinius said: that a story is a way of stretching time.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

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"From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of perhaps the most bestselling and beloved literary fiction of our time comes a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring novel about children on the cusp of adulthood in a broken world, who find resilience, hope, and story. The heroes of Cloud Cuckoo Land are children trying to figure out the world around them, and to survive. In the besieged city of Constantinople in 1453, in a public library in Lakeport, Idaho, today, and on a spaceship bound for a distant exoplanet decades from now, an ancient text provides solace and the most profound human connection to characters in peril. They all learn the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to the paradise of Cloud Cuckoo Land, a better world. Twelve-year-old Anna lives in a convent where women toil all day embroidering the robes of priests. She learns to read from an old Greek tutor she encounters on her errands in the city. In an abandoned priory, she finds a stash of old books. One is Aethon's story, which she reads to her sister as the walls of Constantinople are bombarded by armies of Saracens. Anna escapes, carrying only a small sack with bread, salt fish-and the book. Outside the city walls, Anna meets Omeir, a village boy who was conscripted, along with his beloved pair of oxen, to fight in the Sultan's conquest. His oxen have died; he has deserted. In Lakeport, Idaho, in 2020, Seymour, a young activist bent on saving the earth, sits in the public library with two homemade bombs in pressure cookers-another siege. Upstairs, eighty-five-year old Zeno, a former prisoner-of-war, and an amateur translator, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon's adventures. On an interstellar ark called The Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault with sacks of Nourish powder and access to all the information in the world-or so she is told. She knows Aethon's story through her father, who has sequestered her to protect her. Konstance, encased on a spaceship decades from now, has never lived on our beloved Earth. Alone in a vault with sacks of Nourish powder and access to "all the information in the world," she knows Aethon's storythrough her father. Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All the Light We Cannot See, Konstance, Anna, Omeir, Seymour, the young Zeno, the children in the library are dreamers and misfits on the cusp of adulthood in a world the grown-ups have broken. They through their own resilience and resourcefulness, and through story. Dedicated to "the librarians then, now, and in the years to come," Anthony Doerr's Cloud Cuckoo Land is about the power of story and the astonishing survival of the physical book when for thousands of years they were so rare and so feared, dying, as one character says, "in fires or floods or in the mouths of worms or at the whims of tyrants." It is a hauntingly beautiful and redemptive novel about stewardship-of the book, of the Earth, of the human heart"--

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