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Brilliant,
Interesting,
Insightful

5 reviews

Cloud Atlas : A Novel
by David Mitchell

Published: 2004-08-17
Paperback : 528 pages
57 members reading this now
37 clubs reading this now
18 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 5 of 5 members
By the New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks | Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

A postmodern visionary and one of the leading voices in twenty-first-century fiction, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian love of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and ...
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Introduction

By the New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks | Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize

A postmodern visionary and one of the leading voices in twenty-first-century fiction, David Mitchell combines flat-out adventure, a Nabokovian love of puzzles, a keen eye for character, and a taste for mind-bending, philosophical and scientific speculation in the tradition of Umberto Eco, Haruki Murakami, and Philip K. Dick. The result is brilliantly original fiction as profound as it is playful. In this groundbreaking novel, an influential favorite among a new generation of writers, Mitchell explores with daring artistry fundamental questions of reality and identity.

Cloud Atlas begins in 1850 with Adam Ewing, an American notary voyaging from the Chatham Isles to his home in California. Along the way, Ewing is befriended by a physician, Dr. Goose, who begins to treat him for a rare species of brain parasite. . . . Abruptly, the action jumps to Belgium in 1931, where Robert Frobisher, a disinherited bisexual composer, contrives his way into the household of an infirm maestro who has a beguiling wife and a nubile daughter. . . . From there we jump to the West Coast in the 1970s and a troubled reporter named Luisa Rey, who stumbles upon a web of corporate greed and murder that threatens to claim her life. . . . And onward, with dazzling virtuosity, to an inglorious present-day England; to a Korean superstate of the near future where neocapitalism has run amok; and, finally, to a postapocalyptic Iron Age Hawaii in the last days of history.

But the story doesn’t end even there. The narrative then boomerangs back through centuries and space, returning by the same route, in reverse, to its starting point. Along the way, Mitchell reveals how his disparate characters connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky.

As wild as a videogame, as mysterious as a Zen koan, Cloud Atlas is an unforgettable tour de force that, like its incomparable author, has transcended its cult classic status to become a worldwide phenomenon.

Praise for Cloud Atlas
 
“[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
 
Cloud Atlas ought to make [Mitchell] famous on both sides of the Atlantic as a writer whose fearlessness is matched by his talent.”The Washington Post Book World
 
“Thrilling . . . One of the biggest joys in Cloud Atlas is watching Mitchell sashay from genre to genre without a hitch in his dance step.”Boston Sunday Globe
 
“Grand and elaborate . . . [Mitchell] creates a world and language at once foreign and strange, yet strikingly familiar and intimate.”Los Angeles Times


From the Hardcover edition.

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Book Club Recommendations

Look up discussion points
by ebburtis (see profile) 07/16/09
I could not easily find discussion questions for this book, so do a little research on the book and themes before discussing - it will help the conversation flow.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by hkbarker (see profile) 10/14/17

 
  "Cloud Atlas"by gossamerchild (see profile) 01/17/15

I would recommend this for book groups, with one large caveat (or multiples). We take a break in December, so we assigned this book for January, which meant the group had 2 months to read it. I think... (read more)

 
  "Cloud Atlas"by Neyly (see profile) 10/22/12

Well-liked by most in our book club: if you find you don't like one section, keep reading: the next one may turn out to be your favorite.

 
  "Cloud Atlas"by susano (see profile) 01/04/11

 
  "Cloud Atlas"by Batita (see profile) 11/09/10

 
  "A Challenging Book to Read, but Worth the Work"by ebburtis (see profile) 07/16/09

The book is essentially 6 nested novellas, that overlap and intertwine. Each section is set in a different time period (from 1850 to post-apocolyptic future and then back). There are themes that run... (read more)

 
  "Mental gymnastics"by SuzanL (see profile) 09/24/08

I liked the idea of this book, but it was an exhausting read. I was left with the feeling of "just because you can doesn't mean you should", ie just because the author can craft a nifty new ... (read more)

 
  "Wow! What a book"by beckylord (see profile) 06/21/08

Hard to describe, this book is so different. Very thought-provoking. Keeps your interest

 
  "What an intruiging book!"by pennyslager (see profile) 05/30/08

Unique in style. A must read.

 
  "Intriguing book"by mcdotreader (see profile) 05/08/08

Ingeniously written. Different than anything I have ever read. 5 books encapsuled and woven though each other, but each so uniquely different. YOu must read it to understand what I am talking about.... (read more)

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