Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Rating : 4.5/5
Number of Pages : 529
Reason for Reading : Man Booker Challenge, End of the World Challenge

Where to begin with this fantastic and novel book. It tells separate stories of six different people set in different time periods who come together in unusual and different ways. The atory is The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing and is set in the 1800s. He is a lawyer at sea being treated by a doctor friend for a brain worm. The second tale is Letters from Zedelghem where musician and composer Robert Frobisher writes to his friend and lover Sixsmith in the 1930s. Lusia Del Rey is the subject of the third story The First Lusia Rey Mystery. She is a journalist trying to break a case of an unethical nuclear company in the 1970s. Next follows The Ghastly Ordeal of Timothy Cavendish who accidentally checks himself into the old folks home from hell. He tries escaping and each attempt is more desperate than the last, but all seems futile as he is caught each time. This seems set in the present day time period.

Here things progress in to the future with An Orison of Sonmi~451 who is a fabricant giving her testimony to an archivist before being sentenced to death. She lives in a world of increased technoogy, a utopian society or a dystopian one depending on your point of view and your upbringing and intelligence level. There are said to be no slaves, yet thigns are never quite as they seem. After this is the tale of Sloosha's Crossin. an; Ev'rythin' After which follows Zachery after The Fall has occured and humans are living a more primitive lifestyle without technology again.

Each story stops half way through being told in the order above until you get to Zachery's tale. His goes all the way through and then each story concludes in reverse order ie from the future to the past (Sonmi's tale back to Adam Ewing). Only when you start to go backwards and complete the story do all of the connections and ideas become apparent between the different characters. Each story is written in a different style and it really feels like a different narrator.

Such an immense tale spanning the world and time. I cant recommend it enough. It has something for everyone. Some science fiction and utopian/dystopian aspects, historical aspects, general fiction and a biography feel. It certainly reads like a Booker Prize winner, even though it was nominate and sadly lost out. I will definitely be reading more by mitchell in the future.

8 comments:

Trish said...

Looks like the blog is back to normal. I don't mean to sound weird, but it was definitely not right! Anyway, I've heard such great things about this book and you've made me bump it up on my list. Thanks for the great review!

Cath said...

I've had this on my tbr pile for a couple of years but got put off by a review which said it was too difficult to read. I think perhaps that was stupid of me because I'm quite good at persevering with difficult or unusual reads. I'll put it on the 'to read' list for 2009. Thanks for putting me straight with a good review.

Nymeth said...

For some reason I had no idea that this was an apocalyptic story. It sounds like a great one too. One more for the wishlist.

PS: Happy birthday!! I hope you have a great day :)

tanabata said...

His writing is so clever! I really want to go back and read this again someday.

mariel said...

Interesting. Another book I have yet to get around to reading! He's such an unusual storyteller, but his work is very popular, so I'll give it a go!

p.s. happy happy birthday!!

p.p.s HOW have you had time to read 128 books this year??!! can we switch jobs?!

Lightheaded said...

I adore David Mitchell. It seems this one is somewhat similar to Ghostwritten, his first book. Similar in the sense that in that novel, stories of different people are connected one way or another. I've been putting off reading this one for lack of concentrated time. Hahaha. Hopefully after I wrap up my RIP III reads I'd be able to sit down and devote my reading time to this.

Ghostwritten is a lovely book also. And his other one, number9dream as well (although that one feels like a Murakami, at least to me).

Alice Teh said...

I definitely need to check this out. It's a great book and I'm surprised I'm still thinking of adding it to my ever-growing TBR pile. Thanks for the review!

Susan said...

Great review, and now I really want to read it too!! I was looking for one of his other ones for the booker prize challenge, but if I can locate this one instead.....you make it sound really interesing!
PS happy birthday really belated, and hope your trip to the Big Apple is fantastic!!