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Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Cloud Atlas (original 2004; edition 2004)

by David Mitchell (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
16,558654277 (4.1)4 / 1412
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.
Title:Cloud Atlas
Authors:David Mitchell (Author)
Info:Random House Trade Paperbacks (2004), 509 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (2004)

  1. 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
  2. 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.
  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. 40
    The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood (JenMDB)
  7. 51
    Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban (Rynooo, browner56, pfeldman)
    browner56: Highly imaginative works, particularly the phonetic recreations of the English language
  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. 21
    The Children of Men by P. D. James (JenMDB)
  13. 10
    The Islanders by Christopher Priest (tetrachromat)
  14. 32
    Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel (generalkala)
    generalkala: Similar multi-strand, multi-era novel.
  15. 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.
  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. 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.
  18. 00
    Terra Nullius by Claire G. Coleman (susanbooks)
  19. 00
    The Actual Star by Monica Byrne (susanbooks)
  20. 00
    The Anomaly by Hervé Le Tellier (bluepiano)
    bluepiano: A more complex (and to me, better & more entertaining) novel using more subtly different styles drawn from other sorts of books with disparate characters who've one thing in common.

(see all 35 recommendations)


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English (634)  Dutch (8)  German (4)  French (3)  Spanish (2)  Finnish (1)  Czech (1)  Danish (1)  All languages (654)
Showing 1-5 of 634 (next | show all)
This book was quite satisfying. At first (and reading reviews) I thought the structure would seem gimmicky. But I think it worked well and kept me off balance and engrossed in the progress of the story. Liked it. ( )
  JudyGibson | Jan 26, 2023 |
David Mitchell shows that he can write in any style with any character voice, and get away with it convincingly. Six apparently disparate stories that link with each other across time.

=>David Mitchell can write historical novels: That's THE PACIFIC JOURNAL OF ADAM EWING, with an American notary traveling in 1850 between the Chatham Isles to California.

=>David Mitchell can write brilliant satire and social commentary: LETTERS FROM ZEDELGHEM follows disinherited bisexual nobleman and thief Robert Frobisher as he helps an English composer in Belgium in the 1930s write down his musical ideas, while he, Robert, composes his Cloud Atlas sextet, sleeps with the composer's wife, and falls in love with their daughter.

=>David Mitchell can write fast-paced neo-noir: HALF-LIVES, THE FIRST LUISA REY MYSTERY: spunky girl reporter, whose dead father was once a cop fighting corruption. A chance encounter with Rufus Sixsmith (to whom Letters from Zedelghem from 40 years earlier are addressed), leads her to investigate a local nuclear reactor whose workings are deadly for just about everyone involved with the project.

=>David Mitchell can write humor: THE GHASTLY ORDEAL OF TIMOTHY CAVENDISH follows a sixty-something publisher, trapped in an old folks' home, trying to figure out who his octogenarian accomplices will help him in a prison break from the home.

=>David Mitchell can write science fiction: AN ORISON OF SONMI-451, a dystopian Korean society revealed through the eyes of a clone slave in a soul-less corporatocracy who manages to break free and in the process starts a revolution.

=>And David Mitchell can write like he never learned the rules of English grammar: SLOOSHA’S CROSSIN’ AN’ EV’RYTHIN’ AFTER -- another dystopian, far-in-the-future, set-in-Hawaii story, told through the eyes (and painful language) of a goat herder.

All the stories connect, but you're better off seeing the movie, since the Wachowskis (of The Matrix fame) manage to tie the stories together better than the author does. Just turn on the subtitles for the goat herder's part. ( )
  Ricardo_das_Neves | Jan 14, 2023 |
A perfect self-referential symmetric composition with an indigestible center piece. ( )
  Fodder | Jan 7, 2023 |
It took a bit to get into this book, mainly because the language of Adam Ewig's journal was a bit hard to get used to, and there didn't seem to be much of a plot going on. Once I got through the first bit, and I enjoyed it a lot more and really started appreciating the "nesting dolls" style of storytelling. I'm a bit unsure of my interpretation of events is what Mitchell intended, but I saw each story as taking place in different worlds, but that they could still very much be in the same. I saw precursors to the hyper-commercialization of Somni's world in Louisa Rey's and Timothy Cavendish's, and I could see Somni's world becoming the post-apocalyptic world of Zachry's.

I really enjoyed this and am glad I read it. ( )
  wisemetis | Dec 27, 2022 |
Easily became one of my favourite books. The beginning is a bit hard to get into due to the author's effort of using period-specific language and also due to the structure of the story, however after the first chapter, you will notice the pace begin to quicken. I found the plot to be thrilling and engaging. The author is skilled in the way he incorporates central themes into every chapter and by the end, I was pleasantly surprised by how well the philosophy came together.

I would highly recommend Cloud Atlas to those that enjoy science fiction/fantasy or who are looking for an adventurous book that has a strong but well-weaved intellectual thread in it. ( )
  kid-pr0-kuo | Dec 17, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 634 (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
Lee, JohnNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Matthews, RichardNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mijn, Aad van derTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oldenburg, VolkerTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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rororo (24036)
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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
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 85
1.5 15
2 199
2.5 55
3 573
3.5 197
4 1507
4.5 356
5 1764

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