I read David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas a couple of years ago,
and it quickly found its way into my list of favourite books.
David Mitchell's debut novel Ghostwritten has now entered the ranks.
As in Cloud Atlas, each chapter of Ghostwritten features a different character,
making nine in total - a cult member in Okinawa, a teenage jazz lover working
in a Tokyo record store, an English lawyer living in Hong Kong, a woman who runs
a tea shack on the ancient Holy Mountain in China, a disembodied spirit in Mongolia,
a romantic art thief in Petersburg, a ghost-writer/drummer/womanizer in London,
a physicist on tiny Clear Island in Ireland, and a late night radio DJ in New York.
What is amazing about this novel is David Mitchell's ability to construct such
vivid and compelling characters in the space of 20 to 30 pages. I would be happy to
read whole novels about a number of the individual characters. Even more amazing
is Mitchell's subtlety in weaving the narrative together - each character impacts
another in some way, and often a number of characters' stories collide.
The brilliance of the overall theme of the novel is that it is hidden in the narrative,
disguised cleverly with the individually stylised language of each chapter,
so that you don't even notice it when you forget to look.
I also appreciated that a few of the characters from Ghostwritten, as well
as the prophetic comet which is vaguely mentioned, play large roles in
the later-written Cloud Atlas. While I believe the message of each of these
novels is different, they are tied together with a light touch in a very effective way.
Put this book on your reading list immediately (along with Cloud Atlas).
I will let you discover the purpose of Ghostwritten on your own as the story unfolds.