LITERARY UNIVERSES Ghostwritten Number9Dream Cloud Atlas • 1999 • 2001 • 2004 David Mitchell Mitchell’s debut sets a template that he returns to in his future work: characters and stories overlapping and forming connections. Two members of ensemble pop up in the nameless, disembodied Mongolian spirit who helps protagonist Jasper de Zoet with his mental struggles, and DJ Bat Segundo, who gives the band their first American airplay. His second novel’s title comes from a song by John Lennon, who appears in alongside the likes of Leonard Cohen and David Bowie. “They mustn’t feel like I’ve Photoshopped them together from their best-known moments,” says Mitchell. “They’re not at the height of their fame [in the book], so you shouldn’t hear an angelic choir when they step onto the page.” Luisa Rey, the indefatigable journalist from the ’70s-set story line (played by Halle Berry in the Wachowskis’ 2012 film), shows up in as a love interest of band member Elf Holloway. The two novels also share a passion for music. “Music is a force beyond language,” the author says. “It’s an antidote for an artist who spends his waking life thinking about writing.” Utopia Utopia Ghostwritten’s Utopia Avenue Avenue: The author’s latest novel is unlike any he’s written before: Structured like an album, follows a British rock band seeking stardom in 1967. But as is tradition for David Mitchell, the tale contains echoes of his past books—major themes and Easter eggs alike. We break them down here. Cloud Atlas Utopia Avenue The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet Slade House The Bone Clocks • 2015 • 2014 Utopia Avenue’s immediate predecessor originated on Twitter, bursts of 140 characters that grew into a full-length novel. Though Mitchell’s newest seems like a more traditional book, it has its own unique structure: Each chapter corresponds to a song by the titular band. “I wanted to replicate the experience of lowering the stylus onto an album and listening to it,” says the author. Bassist Dean Moss hails from Gravesend, the same working-class English town as Holly Sykes— and both run away from home. “There is a mechanism in kids that makes them want to reject you and go out into the world,” explains Mitchell. came at the beginning of that stage for me as a parent, and is toward the end of the stage.” • 2010 Virtuoso guitarist Jasper de Zoet shares a lineage and mutual enemy with the protagonist of this 18th-century romance, but the extent of their connection becomes explicit only when you read both. “I love that your familiarity or non-familiarity is the finger on a switch between one genre and another,” says Mitchell. The Bone Clocks’ By Christian Holub “The Bone Clocks Utopia JULY 2020 80 EW ● COM
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