Excerpt from Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Utopia Avenue

by David Mitchell

Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell X
Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jul 2020, 592 pages
    May 2021, 592 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

Abandon Hope

Dean hurries past the phoenix theatre, dodges a blind man in dark glasses, steps onto Charing Cross Road to overtake a slow-­moving woman and pram, leaps a grimy puddle, and swerves into Denmark Street where he skids on a sheet of black ice. His feet fly up. He's in the air long enough to see the gutter and sky swap places and to think, This'll bloody hurt, before the pavement slams his ribs, kneecap, and ankle. It bloody hurts. Nobody stops to help him up. Bloody London. A bewhiskered stockbroker type in a bowler hat smirks at the long-­haired lout's misfortune and is gone. Dean gets to his feet, gingerly, ignoring the throbs of pain, praying that nothing's broken. Mr. Craxi doesn't do sick pay. His wrists and hands are working, at least. The money. He checks that his bankbook with its precious cargo of ten five-­pound notes is safe in his coat pocket. All's well. He hobbles along. He recognizes Rick "One Take" Wakeman in the window of the Gioconda café across the street. Dean wishes he could join Rick for a cuppa, a smoke, and a chat about session work, but Friday morning is rent-­paying morning, and Mrs. Nevitt is waiting in her parlor like a giant spider. Dean's cutting it fine this week, even by his standards. Ray's bank order only arrived yesterday, and the queue to cash it just now took forty minutes, so he pushes on, past Lynch & Lupton's Music Publishers, where Mr. Lynch told Dean all his songs were shit, except the few that were drivel. Past Alf Cummings Music Management, where Alf Cummings put his podgy hand on Dean's inner thigh and murmured, "We both know what I can do for you, you beautiful bastard; the question is, What will you do for me?," and past Fungus Hut Studios, where Dean was due to record a demo with Battleship Potemkin before the band booted him out.

"HELP, please, I'm—­" A red-­faced man grabs Dean's collar and grunts, "I'm—­" He doubles over in agony. "It's killing me."

"All right mate, sit down on the step here. Where's it hurt?"

Spit dribbles from the man's twisted mouth. "Chest."

"'S okay, we'll, uh. get yer help." He looks around, but people rush by with collars up, caps down, and eyes averted.

The man whimpers and leans into Dean. "Aaa-­aaaggh."

"Mate, I think yer need an ambulance, so—­"

"What seems to be the problem?" The new arrival is Dean's age, has short hair and a sensible duffel coat. He loosens the collapsed man's tie and peers into his eyes. "I say, my name's Hopkins. I'm a doctor. Nod if you understand me, sir."

The man grimaces, gasps, and manages to nod, once.

"Good." Hopkins turns to Dean. "Is the gentleman your father?"

"Nah, I never seen him till now. His chest hurts, he said."

"Chest, is it?" Hopkins removes a glove and presses his hand against a vein in the man's neck. "Highly arrhythmic. Sir? I believe you're having a heart attack."

The man's eyes widen; fresh pain scrunches them up.

"The café's got a phone," says Dean. "I'll call nine-­nine-­nine."

"It'll never arrive in time," says Hopkins. "The traffic's blue bloody murder on Charing Cross Road, do you happen to know Frith Street?"

"Yeah, I do—­and there's a clinic, up by Soho Square."

"Exactly. Run there as fast as you can, tell them a chap's having a heart attack outside the tobacconist on Denmark Street and that Dr. Hopkins needs a stretcher team, pronto. Got all that?"

Hopkins, Denmark Street, stretcher. "Got it."

"Good man. I'll stay here to administer first aid. Now run like the bloody clappers. This poor devil's depending on you."

Dean jogs across Charing Cross Road, into Manette Street, past Foyles bookshop, and through the short alley under the Pillars of Hercules pub. His body has forgotten the pain of his fall just now. He passes dustmen tipping bins into a rubbish van on Greek Street, pounds up the middle of the road to Soho Square, where he scares a pool of pigeons into flight, nearly loses his footing a second time as he turns the corner onto Frith Street, and bounds up the steps of the clinic and into a reception area where a porter is reading the Daily Mirror. donald campbell dead, declares the front page. Dean gasps out his message: "Dr. Hopkins sent me. a heart attack on Denmark Street. needs a stretcher team, on the double."

  • 1
  • 2

Excerpted from Utopia Avenue by David Mitchell. Copyright © 2020 by David Mitchell. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Top of the Pops

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Things We Lost to the Water
    Things We Lost to the Water
    by Eric Nguyen
    Spanning over 30 years, Eric Nguyen's debut novel Things We Lost to the Water is epic in scope but ...
  • Book Jacket: The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
    The Final Revival of Opal & Nev
    by Dawnie Walton
    Within the general arc of many well-established and chronicled historical events is oral history's ...
  • Book Jacket: Monkey Boy
    Monkey Boy
    by Francisco Goldman
    Francisco Goldman's Monkey Boy exists in the liminal space between memoir and fiction. Like Goldman ...
  • Book Jacket: The Girl in His Shadow
    The Girl in His Shadow
    by Audrey Blake
    The Girl in His Shadow by Audrey Blake is a fast-paced historical novel set in Victorian-era England...

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
by Jennifer Saint
A mesmerizing debut novel about Ariadne, Princess of Crete for fans of Madeline Miller's Circe.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Morningside Heights
    by Joshua Henkin

    A tender and big-hearted novel about love in the face of loss, from the award-winning author of The World Without You.

Win This Book!
Win Together We Will Go

Together We Will Go
by J. Michael Straczynski

A novel as much about the will to live as the choice to end it.



Solve this clue:

C T T Chase

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.