My friend Emily raved about David Mitchell and recommended Cloud Atlas as a good beginner’s guide to his writing. Now, I went into the book with no idea about what the plot was, so let me just say that the beginning of the book is quite difficult to get through. It’s not mentally taxing to read – it’s just slightly annoying because the first chapter is a journal written by Adam Ewing, an American traveling around the New Zealand islands (I think) that have been colonized, and his writing seemed archaic and awkward to my modern-prose-tuned ears.
But I’m glad I gave myself time to get into it, because this was really kind of an amazing literary ride. Mitchell divides his novel into six stories: Adam Ewing’s ship journey around the Pacific Ocean as seen through his dairy; letters written by an early 19th-century musician who managed to convince a famous composer to take him on as an amanuensis; a thriller following a young reporter as she tries to uncover a conspiracy surrounding a nuclear facility; a hilarious account of an aging book publisher who is accidentally admitted into an old folks’ home and held there against his will; a pre-execution testimony of a clone slave named Sonmi-451; and a narrative from the point of view of Zachry, a tribesman living on an island after the fall of civilization.
To read the rest of my review, click here.