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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and haunting
Each chapter in this book is a short story in itself and at the same time they're all collected together to create one incredible and bizarre epic. Mitchell has the kind of talent that just drips off the pages. It's like attending a nine-course banquet, with each dish more fabulous than the last one. He carries you away and amazes you with every new thought. An incredible...
Published on 15 Nov 2001

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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disconnected from the fundamental interconnectedness of everything
The structure of David Mitchell's Ghostwritten is ambitious, particularly for a debut: it is told through nine different prisms - each chapter is a new story, superficially unrelated to the others, but each has fleetingly contiguous episodes: during the first, a fugitive cultist subway bomber telephones his anonymous handler and leaves a cryptic message. In the second...
Published on 7 July 2009 by Olly Buxton


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Greater than the sum of its parts, 6 Nov 2008
By 
BookWorm "BookWorm" (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Ghostwritten (Paperback)
Overall, this novel came as a surprise. From the blurb I'd suspected it would obtuse and difficult, whereas in fact it was surprisingly easy to read, engaging and interesting. 'Ghostwritten' is more like a collection of linked short stories than a novel in the traditional sense, but it actually worked quite well (and I say that as someone who doesn't normally go in for short stories).

Despite its segmented nature, the novel flows well and there is an overall sense of a whole that is somehow greater than the sum of its parts. Mitchell has the skill of drawing a reader in fast and delevoping characters and plot quickly, which enables the short story format to work.

The stories are all narrated in the first person, and are set in various locations around the world. The sense of place is well evoked and an important feature of the story telling. There are some really original and interesting ideas used here, making it constantly surprising and fresh.

As with any work of this type, there will be a couple of stories that are less good than the rest. In my opinion these were the Russian and London episodes. However the pace picked up again at the end and I thought the 'Night Train' episode was particularly good.

I'd recommend this to most readers as it is an original book with a wide appeal. Fans of short stories might particularly like it, but novel lovers shouldn't be put off either.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Haunting., 27 Feb 2006
This review is from: Ghostwritten (Paperback)
Wonderful! As each section ends I wanted to stay with that character only to become totally immersed in the next within a paragraph. Each chapter is linked with the others and there are even links to his third novel - 'Cloud Atlas' - One character appears in both, another has a descendant in it & a third has 'A birthmark shaped like a comet' - Read this book & then go on to his other brilliant novels - You won't regret it!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intensely liberating literary experience, 24 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Ghostwritten (Paperback)
Some might say too clever for it's own good, but look closely and you will find an inspiring, intriguing and intellectually liberating read. It flashes across an array of cultures, locations and eras, whilst dipping in and out of lives just long enough to leave one utterly compelled and permanently enchanted.
Nine stories are bound mystically together, leaving just the right amount to the imagination. This skillfully crafted novel will dance on your sub-conscious long after being put back on the shelf, leaving plenty of room for repeated readings.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars considerable potential to be fulfilled, 19 Oct 2002
By 
Roger King "rogerk95" (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ghostwritten (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book in parts. It is a novel in '9' parts however I feel it reads more like a short story collection. It relies heavily on coincidence, not a bad thing in a novel, acceptable if it linked in a cohesive fashion. Some of the writing is beautiful, I cite as an example the chapter titled 'Holy Mountain' a beautiful piece on China, the Mongolian and Russian sections have similar effect. It is immensly readable and I look forward to future work, a great novel is in there somewhere but this is not it.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Less Than the Sum of Its Parts, 24 Nov 2010
By 
G Reid (Edinburgh) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ghostwritten (Paperback)
Ghostwritten is a series of short stories, each told in the first person by a different narrator, all of different nationalities, linked by chance encounters and cross-referencing. It's a very clever conceit, and the final couple of chapters contain enough references to the previous 7 or 8 to almost persuade you that it all adds up to a coherent narrative. Unfortunately, for me, it didn't quite.

I had two main problems with the book. The main one was, I just didn't believe in all the different characters. Partly this is the problem with a self-consciously "literary" work of fiction - it strives for literary effect. Many of the characters write literary similes and metaphors that were not only similar in style, but also seemed way out of character. ("I lay entombed in a slab of rock, in an embryo curl". ""Oy!" I yelled, and some genteel ladies walking dogs harrumphed. "Alfred Kopf!" I yelled, and a man dropped out of a tree with a turfy thump." Does anyone write, let alone speak like that in real life?) Plus the characters are mostly pretty unpleasant, making it hard to identify with their various troubles.

The other problem was the way the book occasionally lapses into cliche. The section in Ireland is horribly, horribly cliched, with everyone straight out of central casting, including the shop where you leave the money when the shopkeepers are absent, the ex-hippy who stayed and now grows locally respected marijuana, Father Wally the ubiquitous twinkle-eyed priest on his tricycle and, God help us, all-night sessions at the pub: "'Come by then later, Mo, or whenever, so. Eamonn O'Driscoll's boy is back with his accordion, and Father Wally's organising a lock-in.' Lock-ins at The Green Man. I was home.") And I wished he'd drawn the Americans with the same care he applied to the Japanese or Chinese - the military in particular seem to be based on characters from The Simpsons or Dr Strangelove.

As others have said, the old woman on Holy Mountain section was outstanding, worth reading the book for that alone, and the disembodied spirit was also beautifully handled. The St Petersburg gangsters were pretty unconvincing, though, and unlike the Asian chapters, felt like things he's got from movies than actually experienced.

So, ultimately, I felt it was clever, a very interesting read - but a bit cold, and more like an intellectual exercise than a depiction of real people with real problems - except for that wonderful old woman on the mountain...
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars So many strands, 27 Dec 2007
By 
S. Bentley "stuarthoratiobentley" (North Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ghostwritten (Paperback)
When I started reading Ghostwritten, I wondered why it was marketed as a novel instead of the collection of short stories it seemed to be. Admittedly each section of the novel would reference and sometimes overlap with another section of the novel, but it still seemed to be a quick way of getting around the problem that short story collections traditionally don't sell that well.

And then I got to the Clear Island and Night Train sections and suddenly it all came together, plot strands and themes winding together to turn the disparate characters into an overall symphony of what David Mitchell has to say to the world.

Written in a flowing style that is equally capable of comedy and action and sentiment, Mitchell has turned out a great novel. It reminds me a little of Murakami, a little of Iain Banks (and Iain M. Banks), with snatches of Philip K. Dick but is far and away its own beast.

The first section about the cult member is interesting although, as you'd expect, emotionally distant, but is immediately followed by the romantic tale of a young Japanese boy, then an English businessman in Hong Kong who is haunted by a ghost, a Chinese woman and her viewpoint on the changes in her society, an awareness that hops from person to person, a gang of art thieves, a musician who is also a ghost writer, an Irish scientist whose theories are wanted by the CIA and then a late night DJ who gets a very special caller.

My favourite sections are Kyoto and Clear Island, but this is the sort of novel that will undoubtedly reward rereading and no doubt favourites will change. At any rate, I think this is one of the best novels I've read this year.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unputdownable feast, 6 Dec 2006
This review is from: Ghostwritten (Paperback)
This is such an enjoyable book, but what I think the author does best may be a part of the reason some have disliked it. He brings together lots of different stories and also lots of different ways of telling them - he toys with our expectations, confirms some and dismantles others. It's very like J Barnes's History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters or C Palliser's Betrayals. There is an underlying theme, not just random connections of characters, which is to do with the 'ghosts in the system', the invisible and sometimes not so invisible hand(s) that direct us when we think we have free will, or blindside us when we think we're in control, and also the unchallengable certainties / prejudices / ways of seeing we all have.

But yes, that does mean that a science fiction, ghost story or literary snob may read some of the parts of the book and think 'Eh? What's a sci-fi/ghost/literary story doing here?'. And also he takes some of those styles and develops them to stretching or breaking point, so they nearly disappear up their own fundament - it's a book with a lot of humour also. Plus (a good and bad thing) it's a book of its time, referring to cult-inspired terrorism, the Barings disaster etc., that may already have been forgotten. I for one couldn't put it down though, and will definitely go back to it in years to come.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ghostread, 2 July 2011
By 
Cuban Heel "Neil Schiller" (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Ghostwritten (Kindle Edition)
For the first time ever I couldn't quite decide how to score this one. I hovered my mouse over 4 and 5 stars for ages. I wanted to give it 4 and a half. In the end I marked it down slightly. How hard to please am I?

To be honest, I really enjoyed this book. I thought it was a breath of fresh air in terms of UK literary fiction. As always with story collections, some were stronger than others; but when it clicked into gear, this one worked brilliantly. I found story one a little bit mediocre, but then that was followed by a superb, Murakamiesque tale of young love in Japan, a ghost story set in Hong Kong, a historical tale about life on the Holy Mountain and an outstanding offbeat piece about a disembodied consciousness trying to discover its own history in Mongolia. It then gets maybe a little less compelling until the penultimate section which unfurls through a series of talk radio conversations.

Is it a novel? Well, not really. It's more a set of inter-related shorts. But the scope and breadth of them when taken as a whole is really quite surprising. Mitchell writes well and he holds your attention. My only gripe, which knocked it down from 5 stars, is that occassionally he gets a bit oblique and I was left enjoying the way the sentences sounded but thinking I wasn't 100% sure of what they were saying. As an introduction to his work though, I found it quite impressive and I'll certainly be checking out a few of his others.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 28 Feb 2010
This review is from: Ghostwritten (Paperback)
This is a collection of stories of various characters all in different countries and periods, all told (written) by some sort of spirit (ghost) which inhabits them and travels from one to the other (hence the title !) . It is very original and makes you travel aound the world, where at some point or other the various characters cross each other's paths. This novel stayed with me well after having finished it. My personal David Mitchell chart by order of preference would be #1 Black Swan Green, #2 Ghostwritten, #3 Number9Dream, #4 Cloud Atlas (which I found too hard work but interesting nonetheless).
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Adventurous, provoking, ingenious, 4 Oct 2009
By 
Eileen Shaw "Kokoschka's_cat" (Leeds, England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Ghostwritten (Paperback)
Ghostwritten has all the hallmarks of a dry run for David Mitchell's massive novel Cloud Atlas; though the ambition is large it produces less of a sprawl in this earlier novel and the links between the nine disparate characters are more obvious. Ghostwritten encompasses settings in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Mongolia, Petersburg, London, Clear Island off the coast of Northern Ireland and finally, a New York disc-jockey's studio. The links between them are cleverly made and the characters involved range from a saran-gas terrorist on the Tokyo Metro tube to an ethical female physicist tracked by the FBI to a tiny Atlantic island. The ghosts alluded to in the title are variously a small girl in a Hong Kong high-rise, a sentient being in Outer Mongolia desperate to trace the inception of his transmigratory soul, and, more literally, a young writer in London who is ghosting the biography of a minor intellectual polymath nearing the end of his life.

Adventurous, provoking and intriguingly constructed, this is an absorbing read from beginning to end. Characterisation is handled with flair - male and female - and some sections of the book are laugh-out-loud funny, while others feature conspiracy theory, the frailties of stock-market excess, art fraud and, in one case, the history of Chinese Communism as it affects a young girl living with her father on a Holy Mountain.

The `ghost' theme fragments and fractures at various points, and to some extent exists where an overarching plot might ordinarily have been. As a linking device it is not quite strong enough, but Mitchell's theme also coheres by virtue of his greater interest in story. It is as a story-teller that he excels in this novel. The ending attempts to tie the stories together, with an apocalyptical climax. Perhaps a more accessible work than Cloud Atlas, it doesn't have the astonishing ambition and vast time-line of that book. However, Ghostwritten does showcase Mitchell's extraordinary, not to say visionary, creative talents.
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Ghostwritten
Ghostwritten by David Mitchell (Paperback - 8 Mar 2007)
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