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number9dream Paperback – 15 Mar 2001

4.0 out of 5 stars 101 customer reviews

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Paperback, 15 Mar 2001
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Sceptre; First Edition edition (15 Mar. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340739762
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340739761
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 23.3 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (101 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,111,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

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


Even more dazzling than GHOSTWRITTEN. (Matt Thorne Independent on Sunday)

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)

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. (Boyd Tonkin Independent)

Exceptional. (Literary Review)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Number 9 Dream is a captivating and intelligent novel, well written - as one would expect from David Mitchell, and with some deep themes. The book is about a Japanese young man who is in search of the father who abandoned his family when he and his twin sister were born. He is also haunted by another significant event of his past.

Through the book, the search for his father gradually bears fruit, but ultimately it becomes clear that this knowledge was never important, as the protagonist - Eiji - comes of age through a series of enlightening experiences.

But this is no ordinary coming of age novel as much of the action takes place in Eiji's head. His dreams are as important to the narrative as the real events - and sometimes its a little tricky to separate what is real from what is imagined.

In the end, we see that the number 9 dream is that which starts after every ending. That is, when the other issues are resolved and Eiji comes out of the dream world and seems to wake up into this world, the 9th dream begins - the beginning of Eiji's real life. (Shades of the much shorter "Dandelion Wine" here!)

Parts of this novel were gripping, and the whole narrative sweeps you along. However it is not my favourite book for various reasons - most notably that this seems to be a rather self conscious attempt to write a Murakami novel by David Mitchell. The very title hints at this. #9 Dream is a song by John Lennon. Murakami, of course, achieved fame through his "Norwegian Wood". Indeed, the dialogue in this book compares #9 Dream with the song Norwegian wood.

Eiji is also found to be reading "Wind Up Bird Chronicle" as he contemplates his death - wondering what will become to the man stuck down the dry well.
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Format: Paperback
This is the last of David Mitchell's current output I have read. After being utterly enamoured by 'Cloud Atlas', 'Ghostwritten' and 'Black Swan Green' I was really looking forward to this. I'd have to say though that this is the hardest read of Mitchell's four books. The other three really WERE "unputdownable" but this one I had to give up on half way through and come back to it after a few weeks.

The central figure of the book is Eiji Miyake, a kid from the sticks, and his adventures in the Tokyo metropolis. He arrives in Tokyo on a mission to find his biological father, having lost his twin sister in an accident and been abandoned by his mother. The book tells the story of his seven weeks in Tokyo. The narrative employs Mitchell's trademark magical realism to illustrate Eiji's travails.

Like all of Mitchell's other works, 'Number9dream' is best seen as a collection of tales rather than an uninterrupted story. It flits between reality and Eiji's imagination with ease. I found this fine for the first part of the book but I got lost in the chapter "Study of Tales". For the first time reading Mitchell I didn't get the point! I still don't know what the stories Eiji was reading here were about. Perhaps I'm just not perceptive enough, but this felt like a little bit of Emperor's New Clothes. Hate to be too critical but there you are!

The rest of the book is thoroughly enjoyable and I'm glad I read it. I particularly liked the Yakuza sequences. Very violent, very Manga. The chapter describing the war diaries of Eiji's great uncle was also very well written.

A good book but not as good as the rest of David Mitchell's work. If you're coming to him fresh read 'Cloud Atlas' or 'Ghostwritten' first.
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Format: Paperback
I read a review of this book that wondered how the author managed to get this published. I can only assume that this person is a frustrated, unpublished writer, because this sounds suspiciously like sour grapes to me. I knew David very briefly (and very slightly) when we were teenagers and he was always writing like a dervish even then. It was always clear that he was immensly talented, and these books prove it. I loved this one, and adored 'Ghostwritten' which I've read over and over again. When you finish it you want to go straight back to the beginning and start again. Number9Dream is great, but buy both books, is my advice. I just hope he gives us another book soon, can't wait. And David if you read this, bloody well done, mate.
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Format: Paperback
In Ghostwritten Mitchell excelled when confronted with the Other; in the superb opening tale of a Japanese subway bombing, or the epic story of a soul's journey through many hosts in its search for its origin. That novel failed when the basic components were familiar, when the plot and characters occupied recognisable spaces, and when Mitchell overreached in terms of the variety of tales he told. In Number9dream the book achieves a degree of unity - it basically follows the story of a young man looking for his father in Tokyo, this plotline interrupted, delayed, sped up and dropped by other voices and stories that want to be heard. Tokyo is described in terms of an opaque, fast, towering underworld, a reference to the subterranean region of the mind accessible through dreams. Therefore, as Eiji experiences a psychological resolution to his quest, by returning to his starting point, can Tokyo's complex, overwhelming landscape be razed to the ground. The novel is verbally lush, some sections extraordinary (the double date, the kaiten pilot's diary), whereas some parts are weaker, owing again to familiarity (movie-ish false start opening chapter) or overreaching in style (the goatwriter sections). However, it is a beautiful book, full of amusing, lovely, believable and complicated characters, and Eiji as protagonist reacts always with a reassuring lack of pretension to the mad, unreal reality that he occupies in the loud, overcrowded city.
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