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4.07 of 5 stars 4.07  ·  rating details  ·  16,410 ratings  ·  1,533 reviews
David Mitchell's electrifying debut novel takes readers on a mesmerizing trek across a world of human experience through a series of ingeniously linked narratives.

Oblivious to the bizarre ways in which their lives intersect, nine characters-a terrorist in Okinawa, a record-shop clerk in Tokyo, a money-laundering British financier in Hong Kong, an old woman running a tea s
Paperback, 450 pages
Published August 19th 1999 by Sceptre
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Jim I read Cloud Atlas first, The Bone Clocks second, and Ghostwritten third.

There are some continuities between books, in character names, settings, and…more
I read Cloud Atlas first, The Bone Clocks second, and Ghostwritten third.

There are some continuities between books, in character names, settings, and (most obviously) his style in structuring the stories, but I didn't feel like reading them out of chronological order impacted my enjoyment.(less)
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Community Reviews

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There are so many people living in the world. We jostle up against each other in subway stations in Tokyo.

We crowd into art galleries in Petersburg, vying for the best location to view the masterpieces on display.

We take trains and planes around the world, with mountains, plains, rivers, valleys, and, above all, people rushing by us, in a blur.

Holy Mountains, China

Where is there a place for the individual in the midst of this overwhelming motion?

Still from Koyaanisqatsi

In his first novel, Gho
D. Pow
This book blew my mind. This book also ripped out my heart and stomped on it and then stuffed the battered organ back in my chest cavity, breathed feathery soft on it and set it pumping again. It was that good, that moving, that inspiring. It brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion and left me feeling that wonderful mind expanding, worldview shifting buzz that only art (or sex, or chocolate) of the highest order can accomplish. I feel subtlety changed by this book.

First off, it engag
Feb 10, 2012 s.penkevich rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Mitchell, LOST, Murakami, and fans of reading in general
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Ian Agadada-Davida
’The human world is made of stories, not people. The people the stories use to tell themselves are not to be blamed.’
David Mitchell’s ambitious debut, Ghostwritten, is a world of stories that migrates across the globe like a cloud across the sky, shifting and refiguring between various narrator voices and style. These voices send out ripples into the fabric of reality, which start off small but compound to forever reshape the course of humanity as the reader delves deeper into the novel, placin
Ian Agadada-Davida
Starstruck Lover

David Mitchell is a five star author and this, his first novel, is a five star achievement. I think.

I’ve been lucky to read most of his novels in chronological order as they’ve been released. Joining Goodreads has presented an opportunity to re-read and review them.

I still adhere to the rating, even if it emerges that I have a few question marks about some of his stylistic choices.

What this reveals is that a highly competent author, even with his first novel, doesn’t have to writ
Jeffrey Keeten
”There is truth, and then there is Being Truthful.

Being Truthful is just one more human activity, along with chatting up women, ghostwriting, selling drugs, running a country, designing radiotelescopes, parenting, drumming, and shoplifting. All are susceptible to adverbs. You can be truthful well or badly, frankly or slyly, and you can choose to do it and not to do it….

Truth’s indifference is immutable.”

Have you ever had anyone say to you...Just tell me the truth?

So I ponder what someone wants
"I wonder what happened to him, I wonder what happened to all of them, this wondering is the nature of matter, each of us a loose particle, an infinity of paths through the park, probable ones, improbable ones, none of them real until observed whatever real means, and for something so solid matter contains terrible, terrible, terrible expanses of nothing, nothing, nothing..."

Ordinary human lives, sometimes crisscrossing, sometimes briefly touching, sometimes swiftly passing each other by throu
How dare I write yet another review of Ghostwritten, when most of my GR friends have read, loved, and written fantastic reviews on this book already? I have LIKED Kris’s, and S.Penkevich’s.

So, I will refer my reader to those reviews and here I will only record some loose thoughts.

As with any thing that is openly praised by most, I was a bit apprehensive to approach David Mitchell. Satisfaction is the difference between Attainment and Expectations.

But I have liked the book even though I had to wa
Krok Zero
Oh dear. All the cool kids love David Mitchell. I want to be one of the cool kids! But I won't lie to you, cool kids: this book frustrated the hell out of me, at times outright pissed me off, despite my respect for Mitchell's dexterity hat-trick (intellectual, narrative, verbal). It's the kind of book that made me scarf down the last 100 pages in a single day, breathlessly turning pages in the hopes of making sense of its head-scratching patchwork, only to put down the tome humming that Peggy Le ...more
Sep 16, 2012 B0nnie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to B0nnie by: Megan
The 'G' on my keyboard barely works. I keep typing host for ghost. But that's all right - hosts and ghosts are the point in Ghostwritten. A similar problem could have given me ghost-ridden, which this book is (there's even a Caspar) yet it's the hosts here that are the most interesting, not the ghost surfing.

Mitchel's characters are real - the man knows how to write, as I found out in Cloud Atlas. There, the connection between the characters is metafictional. In Ghostwritten it is metaphysical.
This predates the more famous “Cloud Atlas” ( by about four years; it has similarities of theme (connectedness, migrating spirits), structure (linked narratives, in contrasting styles), and even characters, but in a less contrived format. The subtitle is “A novel in nine parts”, and although some of the earlier ones could be read as standalone short stories, that would be missing the point, particularly with the later sections. Much as I love Cloud Atlas, ...more
I’m wondering if you can tell a lot about a person by which of these stories she likes best. I approached the book as I do a collection of short stories, more interested in Mitchell’s way with words and characters than whether or not the book turned out to be a novel.

Each chapter is named for the location in which a first-person narrator is attempting to understand the particulars of his or her life and situation, despite all the attendant variables and possibilities. What each chapter or chara
Sep 28, 2012 Megan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: David Mitchell fans and everybody else
Recommended to Megan by: s.penkevich
Shelves: favorites, mind-blown
Ghostwritten is a beautiful novel about human beings, their experiences and how we all effect each other. The novel is split up into different stories which each take up a different genre and a different tone and story. The first story of the novel is about a terrorist involved in a strange cult that's goal is to "cleanse" the world. This story sets the scene of the novel and ends up being extremely important as the novel goes on. After reading this one I was wondering where this novel would go ...more
With Ghostwritten you catch glimpses and sometimes even longer scenes of the feature-length greatness that’s to come in Cloud Atlas. This was Mitchell’s publishing debut. As may be true of many first works, he could barely contain all that he wanted to say. It was chock full of people, places and ideas. He gave himself nine very different vehicles for addressing the question of why things happen as they do. The settings of the nine stories span Asia, Europe, and the US. Good, bad, young, old, Ea ...more
Jennifer (aka EM)
Amazing first novel by a truly original writer who's fast becoming a favourite. It's possible I liked this one even better than his later, and better known, Cloud Atlas. Although the style he hones by CA is still a bit rough around the edges here, that roughness actually works in the novel's favour as structure and style did not threaten at any point to overwhelm substance/content.

Mitchell's virtuosity employing different genres per story-chapter is less delineated here than in CA, but that agai
I want to shout from the rooftops about how much I loved this book! I don't think this is going to be a very coherent review, as it's another of those books that is difficult to describe without giving everything away. Ghostwritten was David Mitchell's debut, published in 1999, and it is similar to his better-known Cloud Atlas in that it consists of a number of diverse - but interconnected - stories (and, indeed, a number of characters from that book also make appearances here). It's hugely ente ...more
Jul 13, 2008 Rob rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: someone that wants to see Murakami's British doppelgänger
Recommended to Rob by: Amy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nov 02, 2012 Jonathan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jonathan by: David Mitchell's fans, his other work

Four stars, or even four and a half stars cannot adequately define this novel, yet five stars appears overgenerous. Though Ghostwritten is a brilliantly ambitious novel it is also a tangled and convoluted novel. If you as a reader disliked Cloud Atlas it is unlikely that you would find this novel any better. Where Cloud Atlas seemed a more whole and structured novel this felt a little more twisted and in sections muddled knots of prose appeared to form. That said it shall receive five stars as a
Everyone has a story. And I am their observer.

The woman who ran over my foot with a stroller in a mall this morning was distracted by finding the perfect outfit to rekindle the lackluster fire in her marriage. Baby-weight, bags under her eyes, expensive purse, trendy haircut - her husband is an executive of some sort at an indistinguishable company making enough money so that his late nights at the office were justified, yet spent on on all fours with a ball in his mouth while Mistress Whoever w
This book is bad. Wow. It's really bad. Mitchell's description of a fly as "a Gothic tricycle" will be forever burned into my mind. There are so many reviews here stating something along the lines of "his prose is lyric and great, and he has such a knack for storytelling". I'll give him credit for the plot; it's dense and it appears that he put a little time into linking up all of the loose ends. But complexity =/= virtuosity, and the book suffers from terrible, terrible prose and poor character ...more

The ghost of reading haunted me as I traveled earlier this month: I'd started A Journal of the Plague Year with my destination being Amsterdam and that city is mentioned in Defoe's first paragraph; I switched to this book rather quickly and as I was flying into Copenhagen, I met the Danish character Caspar; I was in the city when the Irishwoman Mo mentions "Custard from Copenhagen".

The theme of the interconnectedness of the many inhabitants of our planet hit me hard when we kept running into
I read this with “Goodness, and this was his first novel!” going through my head the whole time. It is a remarkably bold, nay even reckless, piece of writing. Mitchell manages to express the fragmentation of the modern world, and at the same time its connectedness. The fragmentation is characterised by its form, a series of episodes that take us from Okinawa to Tokyo and all points West until in the end we have been right round the world and back to Okinawa. These are not short stories, they do ...more
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

Although I haven't brought up the subject here in awhile, the fact is that as a book critic and a lover of underground literature, it's important to me to become a "completist" of certain artists out there, or in other words to have consumed every single artistic project they've ever done. After all,
Jun 29, 2015 Deea rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who wants to read a mindblowing novel.
Dominoes. I was always fascinated by dominoes. Our world seems to be comprised of unrelated events and people, but is it really so? We go by metro or by bus daily with a bunch of unknown people and we never think of the connection we might have with them: the person from our left might be the sibling of a friend of one of our colleagues from work or the ex-ex boyfriend or girlfriend of a friend from college and we might never find this out. We encounter people with whom we have no idea we’re som ...more
Nov 27, 2011 Suzanne rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Suzanne by: Kerry
David Mitchell is just scary-smart. In addition to the prodigious writing talent and amazing imagination, his knowledge of world geography, history and politics, sometimes in places I’ve barely heard of, is impressive, not to mention his apparent understanding of physics, satellite technology, Eastern religion, contemporary music and any number of other subjects. Ghostwritten is the kind of book that is so dense I know that I need to re-read it to fully appreciate what he was trying to do here. ...more
So Kill me. I really like David Mitchell, and reading this knowing it was his first novel is one of those things you can only really believe if you've read his other novels. This seems like an embryonic version of Cloud Atlas, with a lot of the same ideas, themes, and even a borrowed character or two. But that seems unfair, because most floret-novels never actually seem beautiful before their time. This one seems both a shinny fetus and world-ready.

This baby was my JAM. Yes, there are/were time
I thought this very good. It left me entertained and, at tangential moments, entrained. Nine stories with a narrative interweaving consistent with the themes each give a different style of writing (congruent with perceptions or points of viewing) and demonstrate great writing talents.

There is floating around somehwhere or other, a sort of shimmering residuum of fairy dust that has fallen from cultural studies, literary theory, the 'new' physics and so on which is explored by writers and other a
Maybe the words will come to me later, but I'm at quite a loss currently. How do I review Ghostwritten? Others have certainly done a better job at explaining it, so I may have to rely on my tumultuous emotions as a form of review (which I often do). I'll start by saying: This is a book that demands to be reread. and soon. As much as I'd like to, I don't think I'll be lending this out to friends. Call me greedy, I just don't know when I'll need to crack it open again.

I'm a little embarrassed to
Okay, so first of all: Don't get me wrong, this is a mighty fine book. There's a reason David Mitchell is among my all-time favorite writers, and it's mostly because he does beautiful things with the English language and knows how to tell a story both well and differently. Hell, I even picked up this book as a fictional escape when"Doors of Perception/Heaven and Hell" got to be a little too heady and, even though this book is more than twice the size of Huxley's two essays, I wound up finishing ...more
Emir Never
"One of the best possible perspectives from which to tell a story is that of a ghost, someone who is dead but can still witness. It’s not that I believe in ghosts, but a ghost is someone to whom everything has already happened, someone who cannot really intervene—or only slightly. At the same time, it is someone who still cares about what he left behind, so much so that he comes back." - Javier Marias

Writing about re-reading Italo Calvino's 1979 novel If on a Winter's Night a Traveller, David M
Boston, December 12th, 2004

If you liked Cloud Atlas, pick up ghostwritten. And give it until page 38.

Shades of Murakami and Borges (both of whom briefly grace the pages) and Hornby (who doesn’t), a warm up for the pyrotechnic doppleganger genre switching of CA. But mostly its David Mitchell all over again (or really for the first time if you still believe in linear time).

Not as archly triumphant as CA and with one or two sour notes (I’d recommend fast forwarding through “Petersburg” skipping an
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David Mitchell was born in Southport, Merseyside, in England, raised in Malvern, Worcestershire, and educated at the University of Kent, studying for a degree in English and American Literature followed by an M.A. in Comparative Literature. He lived for a year in Sicily, then moved to Hiroshima, Japan, where he taught English to technical students for eight years, before returning to England. Afte ...more
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“Integrity is a bugger, it really is. Lying can get you into difficulties, but to really wind up in the crappers try telling nothing but the truth.” 78 likes
“I am going to tell you a secret. Everything is about wanting. Everything. Things happen because of people wanting. Watch closely, and you’ll see what I mean.” 71 likes
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