David Mitchell's second novel, number9dream
, uses a similar episodic format to his brilliant but fragmentary debut Ghostwritten
to create a more coherent and assured narrative that is part detective, part coming-of-age, story. Eiji Miyake, 20, naïve and wholly loveable, encounters a frantic, exotic world when he comes to Tokyo from his small island home to find the father he has never met.
Pin-stripped drones, a lip-pierced hairdresser, midday drunks ... Not a single person is standing still ... a thousand faces per minute ... oven-hot ... ready to buckle under the weight of cloud at any moment.
Eiji is a dreamer, a Billy Liar for the Cyberpunk generation. His fantasies structure this frenetic kaleidoscopic narrative, conducting the reader on an exhilarating, disorientating tour of metropolis and mind. One minute Eiji is contending with arcade-game cybourgs, the next caught up in a Blue Velvet
-type nightmare with real-life (perhaps) gangsters: "dragged into a turf war between wolves with rabies". So what was crazed and charming becomes dangerous and gripping.
This exotica and cyber-unreality allow more traditional novelistic concerns--a boy's coming of age, the exploration of ethical responsibilities or the great human universals of love and duty--to creep up unobtrusively. Pretty soon the realisation dawns: this isn't just fun, this isn't just clever, this is a great, perhaps a very great, novel. A Joycean delight in language and parody combines with affectionate characterisation and an impressive narrative control to make number9dream an extraordinary and rewarding experience. --Robert Mighall
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Even more dazzling than GHOSTWRITTEN (Matt Thorne, Independent on Sunday
If anything more amazing than his debut, GHOSTWRITTEN, this Booker-shortlisted fantasia confirms the Hiroshima-based Mitchell as the most prodigally gifted of young British novelists ... an extraordinary literary cabaret of dreams, visions and pastiches, from video-game rides and gangster rumbles to suicide submariners. Endlessly ingenious and hugely enjoyable - but oddly moving as well. A rich showcase for 21st-century fiction. (Boyd Tonkin, Independent )
I haven't enjoyed a novel so much in ages; wild, bristling with strangeness (Independent
Books of the Year )
A clever, contemporary reworking of classic videogame / quest themes ... This videogame is made not of zeros and ones, however, but of dream fragments and poetry ... the beautiful, snake-like narrative twists and tangles around leitmotifs borrowed from action films, manga, anime, SF, fantasy, old detective novels, mob stories, coming-of-age romances, cyberpunk, epic quests and war stories ... Mitchell rolls around in implausibility, takes some incredible literary liberties, and - yes - gets away with it. (Scarlett Thomas, Independent )
Exceptional . . . more than a surreal detective story or coming-of-age novel, more than a portrait of Tokyo or stream of adolescent consciousness, it is unique: clever, unusual, gripping and beautifully written (Literary Review
It's a measure of the precocity of David Mitchell's talent that this novel, the author's second book, is nearly a rare example of a satisfying "anti-novel". This experimentation with narrative form is usually reserved for authors with comfortably established book sales and secure reputations. It is told dexterously ... The book progresses through quick changes of style and texture. This fixes one's attention on the delights of Mitchell's prose. Almost without realising it, you find that you have fallen for Eiji, and that his plight has registered at a deep level. (Paul Tebbs, Daily Telegraph )
Resounds to the same marvellous chatter of voices that marked out GHOSTWRITTEN, his outstanding first novel (Observer
David Mitchell's second novel was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and it's not hard to see why. The narrative has a langorous, dream-like quality - the result of being structured around Eiji's fantasies. Mitchell writes well in a range of different moods and styles: funny, poignant, humdrum, violent. Most strikingly of all, he depicts Tokyo as a bewildering labyrinth, which provides the perfect backdrop to the desultory wanderings of Eiji's mind. (Observer )
Spellbinding (Boyd Tonkin, Independent
Books of the Year )
A delirious mix of thriller, tragedy, fantasy, video games and a portrait of uneasy modern Japan . . . A deserving Booker nominee. (Guardian
Wildly inventive (Sunday Times
Captures aspects of modern Japan with a compelling authenticity and beauty (Daily Telegraph