Summary and book reviews of Ghostwritten by David Mitchell

Ghostwritten

A Novel

by David Mitchell

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

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About this Book

Book Summary

David Mitchell spins genres, cultures, and ideas like gossamer threads around and through these nine linked stories.

A gallery attendant at the Hermitage. A young jazz buff in Tokyo. A crooked British lawyer in Hong Kong. A disc jockey in Manhattan. A physicist in Ireland. An elderly woman running a tea shack in rural China. A cult-controlled terrorist in Okinawa. A musician in London. A transmigrating spirit in Mongolia. What is the common thread of coincidence or destiny that connects the lives of these nine souls in nine far-flung countries, stretching across the globe from east to west? What pattern do their linked fates form through time and space?

A writer of pyrotechnic virtuosity and profound compassion, a mind to which nothing human is alien, David Mitchell spins genres, cultures, and ideas like gossamer threads around and through these nine linked stories. Many forces bind these lives, but at root all involve the same universal longing for connection and transcendence, an axis of commonality that leads in two directions--to creation and to destruction. In the end, as lives converge with a fearful symmetry, Ghostwritten comes full circle, to a point at which a familiar idea--that whether the planet is vast or small is merely a matter of perspective--strikes home with the force of a new revelation. It marks the debut of a writer of astonishing gifts.

OKINAWA

Who was blowing on the nape of my neck?

I swung around. The tinted glass doors hissed shut. The light was bright. Synthetic ferns swayed, very gently, up and down the empty lobby. Nothing moved in the sun-smacked car park. Beyond, a row of palm trees and the deep sky.

"Sir?"

I swung around. The receptionist was still waiting, offering me her pen, her smile as ironed as her uniform. I saw the pores beneath her make-up, and heard the silence beneath the muzak, and the rushing beneath the silence.

"Kobayashi. I called from the airport, a while ago. To reserve a room." Pinpricking in the palms of my hands. Little thorns.

"Ah, yes, Mr. Kobayashi. . ." So what if she didn't believe me? The unclean check into hotels under false names all the time. To fornicate, with strangers. "If I could just ask you to fill in your name and address here, sir ... and your profession?"

I showed her my bandaged hand. "I'm afraid you'll have to fill the form in for me."...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Nine disparate but interconnected tales (and a short coda) in Mitchell's impressive debut examine 21st-century notions of community, coincidence, causality, catastrophe and fate. Each episode in this mammoth sociocultural tapestry is related in the first person, and set in a different international locale....Already a sensation on its publication in England, Mitchell's wildly variegated story can be abstruse and elusive in its larger themes, but the gorgeous prose and vibrant, original construction make this an accomplishment not to be missed.

The Observer (UK) - Adam Lively

David Mitchell's first novel is a firework display. . . . The assurance and panache are truly remarkable. . . . This is a remarkable novel by a young writer of remarkable talent.

The Independent (UK) - Lawrence Norfolk

Every one of these pages deserves and demands to be read and re-read. Ghostwritten is an astonishing debut.

The Independent (UK) - Lawrence Norfolk

Every one of these pages deserves and demands to be read and re-read. Ghostwritten is an astonishing debut.

The Observer (UK) - Adam Lively

David Mitchell's first novel is a firework display. . . . The assurance and panache are truly remarkable. . . . This is a remarkable novel by a young writer of remarkable talent.

Express on Sunday (UK) - Rachel Cusk

Boundless, fully imagined . . .the best modern novel I have read for some time.

Express on Sunday (UK) - Rachel Cusk

Boundless, fully imagined . . .the best modern novel I have read for some time.

Author Blurb Tibor Fischer
An astounding novel.

Author Blurb A. S. Byatt
This is one of the best first novels I've read for a long time. It's told in a series of gripping, interconnecting tales, in many voices, all of them imaginatively urgent. For all the plot's dazzling complexity, Mitchell's writing--which has many styles--is always simple and elegant. His people always engage the imagination, and the book is never clotted by its ambitions. It easily covers the global village but there's no sense that it's striving for multiculturalism or spectacular effects--just that Mitchell knows what he's doing. I read a proof of this on a transatlantic flight. When I got off in Atlanta, I couldn't put it down. I pulled my luggage in one hand along corridors and escalators, and held David Mitchell's last chapter up to my nose with the other. I finished at the carousel. It seemed appropriate. And it's even better the second time.

Author Blurb A. S. Byatt
This is one of the best first novels I've read for a long time. It's told in a series of gripping, interconnecting tales, in many voices, all of them imaginatively urgent. For all the plot's dazzling complexity, Mitchell's writing--which has many styles--is always simple and elegant. His people always engage the imagination, and the book is never clotted by its ambitions. It easily covers the global village but there's no sense that it's striving for multiculturalism or spectacular effects--just that Mitchell knows what he's doing. I read a proof of this on a transatlantic flight. When I got off in Atlanta, I couldn't put it down. I pulled my luggage in one hand along corridors and escalators, and held David Mitchell's last chapter up to my nose with the other. I finished at the carousel. It seemed appropriate. And it's even better the second time.

Reader Reviews

Cloggie Downunder

a brilliant debut novel
Ghostwritten is the first novel by British author, David Mitchell. Told by nine different narrators, with a plot spanning centuries and continents, this is an amazing debut novel. The narrators are a member of a doomsday cult who releases poison gas ...   Read More

supernova

I love this book. You have to take your time but if you pay attention you will marvel at how intricitly woven this plot is, I mean come on I'm 16 and I can appreciate it. David Mitchell is such an educated, worldly, and diverse writer, he's taking...   Read More

frauna
I dindn't understand the novel, I' sorry. What happened to the little girl who was born in Mongolia? there is more than one noncorpa? Who the hell was His Serendipity? And the russian girl? Please, help me.

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