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Cloud Atlas (2004)

by David Mitchell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
17,150666281 (4.1)4 / 1426
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.
  1. 121
    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. 132
    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. 60
    Number9Dream by David Mitchell (PghDragonMan)
  5. 94
    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.
  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
    Black Swan Green by David Mitchell (PghDragonMan)
  9. 31
    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
    Gods Without Men by Hari Kunzru (Tinwara)
  12. 32
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (generalkala)
    generalkala: Similar multi-strand, multi-era novel.
  13. 10
    The Islanders by Christopher Priest (tetrachromat)
  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
    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
    Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (nicole_a_davis)
    nicole_a_davis: Both have stories that span multiple time periods and are seemingly unconnected until the end.
  17. 21
    The Children of Men by P. D. James (JenMDB)
  18. 00
    Elysium by Jennifer Marie Brissett (ansate)
  19. 00
    Join by Steve Toutonghi (47degreesnorth)
  20. 00
    Measuring the World by Daniel Kehlmann (JuliaMaria)

(see all 35 recommendations)


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English (644)  Dutch (8)  German (4)  Spanish (3)  French (3)  Czech (1)  Danish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (665)
Showing 1-5 of 644 (next | show all)
Must reread this book. And see the movie. ( )
  Maryjane75 | Sep 30, 2023 |
Finished this over the weekend. This is a very imaginative book that really keeps your interest. ( )
  lschiff | Sep 24, 2023 |
The phenomenon of the "anti-memoir" is not uncommon i.e. an obliterated text consisting almost entirely of cliché and borrowed phrase, obscuring more than revealing its subject, such that, in its grip, the reader wonders whether writing about oneself is even possible.

In an analogous sense, this project comes close to the "anti-novel." A felicity for bargain-bin phrases (excepting the occasional apt descriptor) and "deep thematic ideas" (would be happy to be learn there is a deeper consideration of "eternal recurrence" than the occasional wink), which obliterates the text. If an accumulation of six unremarkable made-for-film interchangeable scenarios is really a "novel," the reader wonders whether the novel-as-such is even possible. Something about science-fiction-adjacency appears to generate these kinds of projects. We therefore respect Ted Chiang still more for being one of the few writers who can pull it off. ( )
  Joe.Olipo | Sep 19, 2023 |
It's been a long time since I've read something I admired so unreservedly - on one level, it's a nailbiting adventure in each of the book's segments, as you care passionately about the outcome of each disparate story, but it's also constructed in such a lucid, intricate way, and the final section (which is the first chronologically) connects so beautifully to the central (which is the last chronologically) that it effortlessly subverts the movement of the characters through time - all is circular. I was quite breathless at the scale and ambition at the end.

I definitely see more David Mitchell appearing on my reading list in the very near future... ( )
  Helen.Callaghan | Aug 28, 2023 |
While I usually like complex books, but this on flopped on me with stories I could not care about. I don't know when I stopped reading, and cannot recall now, years later, anything about this famous book. ( )
  mykl-s | Aug 13, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 644 (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
David Mitchellprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brick, ScottNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Campbell, CassandraNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guest, Kim MaiNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Heyborne, KirbyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kutsarova-Levi, MagdalenaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthews, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mijn, Aad van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oldenburg, VolkerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Belongs to Publisher Series

rororo (24036)



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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
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

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.

No library descriptions found.

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.

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Average: (4.1)
0.5 6
1 87
1.5 15
2 209
2.5 56
3 580
3.5 201
4 1538
4.5 358
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