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Ghostwritten Paperback – 20 Apr 2000

4.0 out of 5 stars 179 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; 2 edition (20 April 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340739754
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340739754
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (179 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 7,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

"What is real and what is not?": David Mitchell's first novel, Ghostwritten: A Novel in Nine Parts, plays with this question throughout its "parts". (That there are 10 sections is just part of the mystery of this book's schema.) Told through a range of voices, scattered across the globe--Tokyo, Hong Kong, Mongolia, Petersburg, London--Ghostwritten has been described as a "firework display, shooting off in a dozen different narrative directions" (Adam Lively).

Certainly, Mitchell offers his readers a vertiginous, sometimes seductive, display of persona and place. "Twenty million people live and work in Tokyo," he writes in "Okinawa", the first section in the novel. "It's so big that nobody really knows where it stops." That sense of the global extension of the (post)modern city, the networks-- cultural, technological, phantasmagoric--to which it gives rise, is one key to this story of a Japanese death cult devoted to purging the "unclean" (gas attacks on the metro). "No, in Tokyo you have to make your place inside your head": that's how this immense world gets smaller, more subjective, more mad, as the narrator, Mr Kobayashi, sheds his "old family of the skin" to join a new "family of the spirit". It's a common theme. "I'm this person, I'm this person, I'm that person, I'm that person too," chants the voice of "Hong Kong", in the second section of the book. "No wonder it's all such a fucking mess." Neal's talking about his world, his life as a Hong Kong trader--"he's a man of departments, compartments, apartments"--but he might also be describing the experience of reading Ghostwritten. At once loquacious and knowing, leisurely and frantic, Mitchell offers his readers a huge, but fragmentary, portmanteau which builds in the links between its parts--aching bodies, reality police, the "ghost" writer in the machine of contemporary life, its mad, comic, and cosmic voices--without quite convincing you that they really do come together. -- Vicky Lebeau

Review

An astonishing debut. (Independent)

One of the best first novels I've read in a long time . . . I couldn't put it down. (AS Byatt Mail on Sunday)

A remarkable novel by a young writer of remarkable talent. (Observer)

The best first novel I have read in ages . . . it beguiles, informs, shocks and captivates. (William Boyd Daily Telegraph)

If you want to know what the distinctive literature of the 21st century will look like, begin here. (Boyd Tonkin Independent)

Fabulously atmospheric and wryly perceptive . . . a huge new talent. (Books of the Year Guardian)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have perhaps read Mitchell in the wrong order so far, having started with Cloud Atlas several years ago and now reading Ghostwritten. These two books are written in very similar styles, each chapter is like a short story unto itself but the further you read the more you notice that the stories drift gently together and apart, like leaves on a breezy day.

Ghostwritten was not as strong as Cloud Atlas for me. I can't quite put my finger on where it didn't sweep me away as strongly, it just didn't. Perhaps it was the stories all being set in a relatively contemporary time, it didn't have quite the same breadth that Cloud Atlas did.

Anyway, still a very strong read and if you've enjoyed any of his other books then I'm sure you'll enjoy this one too.
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David Mitchell's award-winning debut novel is a fine introduction to his brand of cosmopolitan fiction, a feature that would be evident in his later novels like Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks. The novel not only traverses geographical locations from Japan (both Okinawa and Tokyo), Hong Kong, China (Holy Mountain), Mongolia, to Petersburg, London and Ireland (Clear Island), Mitchell also inhabits the skin of narrators who are natives in these places, so that it problematises the local/global perspectives.

The narrative is fractured, and seemingly disconnected. But Mitchell manages to join them up into a composite whole that is larger than the sum of its parts. A member of a Japanese doomsday cult carries out a gas bomb attack in the Tokyo underground and flees to Okinawa, while he awaits instructions and divine messages from his leader, His Serendipity, supposedly through dog barks (I kid you not) and phone calls to his contacts, the latter which finds him connecting with an independent jazz record store in Tokyo, that Mitchell's next narrative focaliser, teenager-about-to-fall-in-love-with-Chinese-girl Satoru, works at. This then brings the narrative to Hong Kong, where Satoru goes with his girlfriend, but by which time, the focus is on a roguish British expat trader who is about to have a worst day of his life when all his misdeeds catch up with him.
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Great story overall, though I have to say I was a little tired by the end of meeting new characters and getting to know them over and over. Still an excellent book, well written and intriguing.
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Fantastic imagination from one of my favourite novelists. You can see the Japanese influence in a novel jam packed with so many characters.
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Totally engaging, returned months later and immediately re-immersed in Mitchell's world of 'ghostwritten'. Thank you Martha Lane Fox for the BBC recommendation. Will read more of his!
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I absolutely loved this book. It might not be everyone's cup of tea but for me the writing and the intertwining of the separate stories was magical.
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Love David Mitchell's style and feel totally immersed & invested in his characters. Will no doubt read it again soon.
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Recommended.
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