Anyone else incredibly excited that David Mitchell is visiting the holy land of Brooklyn U.S.A. in Juuuly?
For a while on Wikipedia, his soon to be published fifth novel was listed bizarrely as NAGASAKI. Based on this interview
Now it's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, set on an island in Nagasaki Harbor around
the turn of the 19th century.
Based on Mitchell's record, this book could be incredible. If you haven't read him, why the hell not start with this one. It's strange that he's not more read in the U.S. since he accomplishes what our novelists try to do He leaves you with musical stories to reconsider, think about and muse over the plots. They always bubble up in my mind long after I've read them.. Hard to shake.
I received Ghostwritten from my aunt in England around the time it came out and it sat on the bookshelf for a number of years until I saw an interview with Mitchell in the Financial Times that impressed me. That was when his fourth novel, Black Swan Green, had just been published.
So I went back and read Ghostwritten, the international interlocking short stories written like a series of philosophical essays about why things happen. Number9Dream may be my favorite of them all, it's the Japanese 20-year-old boy's fantasy life and life in Tokyo. That novel, in scenes that give no hint as to whether they're real or imagined, has a rhythm that picks up in speed to an unbelievably hyper pitch in a few chapters.
This one is the most famous, if any of them can be called famous.
It's good. I started reading it thinking it would be like a rewritten version of Ghostwritten, but it goes much deeper. Still kind of trying to figure it out and I don't want to give what little I've gleaned away. Six stories over five to six hundred years of history, told by different speakers, and pretty f'ing glorious just as a literary achievement.
That is the edition of Ghostwritten I read.
This wonderful British bird says that it's her favorite, after reviewing all of his novels on Youtube.
I'm with you sweetheart! Well, I don't know what to say about that charming novel -- it led me to read everything else. (Neil Brose in ghostwritten = Nick Leeson. Neil Brose in Jason Taylor's school = Nick Leeson and Mitchell really in school together? Doubtful, but fun to imagine).
This is the edition of Black Swan Green I just finished, approximately three years after reading Ghostwritten, and caught up just in the nick of time, apparently.
BSG is a unique novel that I couldn't well describe. The story of the 13 year old boy growing up in bloody England veers from deranged teenage fun to adolescence crushed by life on a hairpin. It's fun, it's frightening, it's beautifully dense and complicated...
The highest compliment I can think of for Mitchell right now is that he gives me that unique Nabokov sense of magic and surprise in literature.
So, literary Brooklynites unite and attend the Greenlight bookstore, July 17 at 7:30 p.m.!!
(This guy made some awesome Number9dream covers. I think he feels the same way I do about it).