By David Mitchell
Here I am, reviewing yet another David Mitchell. I quite dig this chap – his stories are clever and interesting, his characters span a variety of timescapes and landscapes and he’s on his way to perfecting a narrative format that is pretty unique (at least I have not read another quite like this).
Ghostwritten is Mitchell’s debut novel. It was noticed almost immediately, winning itself the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. For a debut, it is a pretty ambitious book – as its sub-title reads, it’s a novel in nine parts. Nine parts that are as diverse as they come. From a cult member terrorist in Okinawa on the run, to a broken investment banker in HK, a record store salesman in Tokyo finding love unexpectedly, an old woman living through China’s tumultuous history in south China, a transmigrating ghost who finally finds her human body in Mongolia, an art thief in post-Soviet St. Petersburg who is double-crossed, a depraved musician and ghostwriter in London also finding love, a nuclear physicist running away from the consequences of her work and last but not the least, a kind of super-intelligence that is controlling the world. Each of these stories is distinct and yet inter-connected in strange, inexplicable ways. One of the characters saves the life of another story’s character, one witnesses another’s death, characters in one keep re-appearing in others, and somehow one gets the feeling that each story is the cause or the effect of another.
This is a format Mitchell carries forward in Cloud Atlas (he loves repeating characters from his other books) to an even better effect. I am captivated and entranced. I love stories, and Mitchell is storyteller par excellence. One almost waits for the next surprise or twist round the corner.
There is one more book in his repertoire I am yet to read. I can’t wait to get my hands on that one.