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

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A Novel

by David Mitchell

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  • First Published:
    Sep 2000, 448 pages
    Oct 2001, 448 pages

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The extractor fan droned. Somewhere beyond its drone I could hear a little girl, sobbing. So much sadness in this twisted world. I began shaving.

I awoke early, not remembering where I was for the first few moments. Jigsaw pieces of my dream lay dropped around. There had been Mr. Ikeda, my home-room teacher from high school, and two or three of the worst bullies. My biological father had appeared too. I remembered that day when the bullies had got everyone in the class to pretend that I was dead. By afternoon it had spread through the whole school. Everyone pretended they couldn't see me. When I spoke they pretended they couldn't hear me. Mr. Ikeda got to hear about it, and as a society-appointed guardian of young minds what did he take it upon himself to do? The bastard conducted a funeral service for me during the final home-room hour. He'd even lit some incense, and led the chanting, and everything.

Before His Serendipity lit my life I was defenseless. I sobbed and screamed at them to stop, but nobody saw me. I was dead.

After awakening, I found I was tormented with an erection. Too much gamma wave interference. I meditated under my picture of His Serendipity until it had subsided.

If it's funerals the unclean want, they shall have them aplenty, during the White Nights, before His Serendipity rises to claim his kingdom. Funerals with no mourners.

I walked down the Kokusai Dori, the main street of the city, doubling back and weaving off to lose anybody who was trailing me. Unfortunately my alpha potential is still too weak to achieve invisibility, so I have to shake trailers the old-fashioned way. When I was sure nobody was following me I ducked into a games center and placed a call from a telephone booth. Public call boxes are much less likely to be bugged.

"Brother, this is Quasar. Please connect me with the minister of defense."

"Certainly, brother. The minister is expecting you. Permit me to congratulate you on the success of our recent mission."

I was put on hold for a couple of moments. The minister of defense is a favorite of His Serendipity's. He graduated from the Imperial University. He was a judge, before hearing the call of His Serendipity. He is a born leader. "Ah, Quasar. Excellent. You are in good health?"

"On His Serendipity's service, Minister, I always enjoy good health. I have overcome my allergies, and for nine months I haven't suffered from-"

"We are delighted with you. His Serendipity is mightily impressed with the depth of your faith. Mightily impressed. He is meditating on your anima now, in his retreat. On yours alone, for fortification and enrichment."

"Minister! I beg you to convey my deepest thanks."

"Gladly. You've earned it. This is a war against the unclean myriad, and in this war acts of courage do not go unacknowledged, nor unrewarded. Now. You'll be wondering how long you are to remain away from your family. The Cabinet believes seven days will suffice."

"I understand, Minister." I bowed deeply.

"Have you seen the television reports?"

"I avoid the lies of the unclean state, Minister. For what snake would willingly heed the voice of the snakecharmer? Even though I am away from Sanctuary, His Serendipity's instructions are inscribed in my heart. I imagine we have caused a stir among the hornets."

"Indeed. They are talking about terrorism, showing the unclean foaming at the mouth. The poor animals are almost to be pitied-almost. As His Serendipity predicted, they are missing the point that it is their sins being visited on their heads. Be proud, Quasar, that you were one of the chosen ministers of justice! The 39th Sacred Revelation: Pride in one's sacrifice is not a sin but selfrespect. Keep a low profile, nonetheless. Blend in. Do a little sightseeing. I trust your expense account will suffice?"

Excerpted from Ghostwritten by David Mitchell Copyright© 2000 by David Mitchell. Excerpted by permission of Random House, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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