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Book of Clouds

3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  471 ratings  ·  115 reviews
Book of Clouds is a haunting, masterfully wrought debut novel about a young woman adrift in Berlin, where a string of fateful encounters leads to romance, violence, and revelation. Having escaped her overbearing family a continent away, Tatiana settles in Berlin and cultivates solitude while distancing herself from the city’s past. Yet the phantoms of Berlin—seeping in thr ...more
Paperback, 204 pages
Published March 3rd 2009 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 930)
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Kinga
Reading this was like lying on the grass and watching clouds. After two hours nothing truly happened, although something beautiful transpired and you feel like a poet.

As the back cover would tell you ‘Book of Clouds’ is about a Mexican woman adrift in Berlin. I quite liked that this immigrant story did not include the British/American perspective. The world Tatiana came from and the world she came to are both foreign worlds to a regular British or American. Aridjis successfully married off Lati
...more
Judy
Why did this get magnificent reviews--a young / pretty author? So much of the writing was not good, the scenes obvious constructs.
Ursula
Book of Clouds is the story of an ex-pat Mexican woman living an aimless existence in Berlin. The writing is poetic at times but often veers in the direction of pointless neurosis. The main character, Tatiana, is mildly interesting but as the story goes on, it becomes obvious that she's loveless and bored in nearly every aspect of her life. Written in first person, it's easy to assume the author is basing Tatiana on herself so when the sex scene is described in exceedingly chaste words, it appea ...more
Lee Razer
Essentially a brooding, atmospheric illumination of the city of Berlin. The city is certainly the co-main character of the novel, at least, and it feels here like a dark, dense stain sinking into the fabric of the universe. It is the shadowed spot left on the wall of the empty apartment above the protagonist that is not covered up even when a new tenant arrives to rehabilitate the space. It is the secret underground bowling alley of the Nazis, or the Stasi, it makes little difference which, wher ...more
Sam

"Book of Clouds" is one of the must-reads of 2009. As Wendy Lesser wrote in The New York Times, "First novels by young writers who see the world with a fresh, original vision and write about it with clarity and restraint are rare enough to begin with. When you add in the fact that Chloe Aridjis’ “Book of Clouds” is also a stunningly accurate portrait of Berlin, as well as a thoughtful portrayal of a young Mexican Jew drifting through her life abroad, this novel becomes required reading of the mo
...more
Kerfe
After a few chapters I thought: a ghost story. And indeed at the end the narrator notes that "there was little difference between clouds and shadows and other phenomena given shape by the human imagination."

Is there any substance to this story? It's not just that Tatiana sees and feels and hears ghosts; every action, every thought, every word seems haunted by the past and the horrors of humanity. There is no anchor, no context to make anything real. Changes are too vast and unpredictable to find
...more
Damian
This book is lovely, it's prose in places as light as the clouds of the title, in places as dark. It's hard to know what other readers would make of it and whether to recommend it due to it's strong reliance on the topography of Berlin to create it's story and moods.

I love Berlin, adore it, and I found myself mentally walking it's pathways whilst reading the book, finding myself in the grey shadow of the Fernsehturm or the more bohemian setting of Prenzlauer Berg. From the Geisterbahnhof (ghost
...more
Lisa
One of those books that is very well written but doesn't really go anywhere ... but makes you think ...
Andrew
A very quiet, meditative book about a Mexican woman adrift in Berlin. Tatiana is alienated from her family and her friends, cut off from the rest of the city, uninterested in forming a relationship with anyone. She gets a part-time job doing transcription work for a historian, goes on a few lacklustre dates with a fairly nondescript meteorologist, becomes slightly obsessed with a mentally ill woman, avoids her neighbours, develops insomnia. The book meanders along like this for most of the 200 p ...more
Shinelle
Book of Clouds is well-written, in that it employs some beautiful metaphors and intriguing turns of phrase. The author plays with language to great effect. The story may ring true to anyone who has studied abroad, and certainly I now know more about the German transit system than I ever expected to know. The problem with the novel is conflict. There really isn't any, or at least none sufficiently compelling to necessitate the novel's existence. The only questions posed get answered without ever ...more
Ugh
My missus was given this as a present by a friend who'd recently moved back to London, having spent six months in Berlin. We're not entirely unfamiliar with Berlin ourselves: we spent a few days there a couple of summers ago, and said friend showed us around.

The missus didn't much like the book, and she warned me I wouldn't either, but I wanted to read something that wasn't set in the UK or US, and all of the local bookshops were closed for the extended bank holiday weekend, so I was stuck with
...more
Jim Elkins
Well observed, paced, and structured. It has all the ingredients for a good novel: but it's trite, and the reason for its triviality is a strange lacuna in the author's imagination of her main character. The Mexican woman who wanders around Berlin, taking pleasure in riding the S-Bahn, in long walks, and in the weather, is a habitually solitary person. She isn't often lonely, but even after five years in Berlin she has only three or four acquaintances, including a homeless woman who begs on a tr ...more
Kasey Jueds
Admired this without loving it... though some pages/passages I really did adore. It's definitely not everyone's cup of tea: extremely interior and meditative, and not big on plot. I usually like those things, and, like I said, I was swept away by some sections; the narrator's voice is so strange and unlike anything else I've ever encountered in fiction; she's believably and (to me) sympathetically neurotic and obsessive and all her emotions are thoroughly ambiguous. And the descriptions of Berli ...more
Oren
oh my god this book is terrible! only the author's extremely privileged personal connections (her dad is a super-big-deal mexican writer and diplomat) could POSSIBLY explain the positive critical attention this godawful book has gotten. it is dishonest, badly written schlock catering to an uninformed american audience that wants to think berlin = impossibly low rents + edgy nightlife + nazis nazis nazis still everywhere. ignore the gushing ny and la times reviewers and check out jessica joffe's ...more
Elvira
I bought this book only because the review on the back promised me Murakami-like experience. Even though I can see how Aridjis's writing is similar to Murakami's and although I enjoyed her novel, I couldn't help noticing that my mind wandered during some passages, as if the words and their meaning were not strong enough to hold my attention, something I never experienced with Murakami.
Bookaholic
Deşi nu are nimic fantastic în construcţia lui, romanul lui Chloe Aridjis, Cartea norilor (2009, Prix du Premier Roman Étranger), este departe de a fi o simplă incursiune realistă în Berlinul de după căderea Zidului. Un oraş prins în ritmul înnebunitor al modernităţii, al adaptării la un prezent care încearcă să şteargă ultimele graniţe dintre Est şi Vest, Berlinul este şi un spaţiu încărcat de o istorie încă dureroasă: atracţia pentru latura sa tenebroasă este mai vie decât oricând, iar mituril ...more
Angela
Moving account of a city rich in history told by an ex-pat in Berlin after the fall of the wall. Still mulling over the richness of the imagery and the larger implications of the symbolism of the clouds.
Lauren
This was annoying. Rambling. Boring plot. Nothing to grab onto. Okay writing, but not amazing.

And since I read this yonks ago I can't remember the details.
Diane
Having just returned from my first visit to Berlin, I read with a map of the city on my lap. The city itself is the book's main character, a city where one never knows what ghost from the past may turn up in an improbable place--on the S Bahn or in Alexander Platz. What I'll remember from the book is plot (there's really little of it) or even characters, but specific scenes: the labyrinth of the Holocaust Memorial, the place behind the Hackescher Market where the trams sleep (this ally was just ...more
The Nomadic
Berlin: A city that ran on its chronometric scale on a Book of Clouds

While I was in Paris, I went to a book reading at the bookstore Shakespeare & Company. The place was completely packed with books and people and the atmosphere was warm and friendly. The magical environment of Shakespeare & Co., and the good wine certainly contributed to the success of this enjoyable evening.

The author Chloe Aridjis read from her debut novel “Book of Clouds.” I bought the book the same evening and I rea
...more
Andrew
Aug 20, 2011 Andrew marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
A very quiet, meditative book about a Mexican woman adrift in Berlin. Tatiana is alienated from her family and her friends, cut off from the rest of the city, uninterested in forming a relationship with anyone. She gets a part-time job doing transcription work for a historian, goes on a few lacklustre dates with a fairly nondescript meteorologist, becomes slightly obsessed with a mentally ill woman, avoids her neighbours, develops insomnia. The book meanders along like this for most of the 200 p ...more
Jeff Hanson
Chloe Aridjis's Book of Clouds is a beautifully written short novel of a young foreigner living in Berlin. Her family, who own the largest Jewish Deli in Mexico City, first visit Berlin when Tatiana, the heroine, is only a teenager. Back then, at a rally protesting the wall, she sees a man she swears is Hitler on the subway, dressed as a 90-year old woman, and surrounded by aged bodyguards. Her family of course never see him, and refuse to believe her. Now a young adult trying to make her way in ...more
Sam

"Book of Clouds" is one of the must-reads of 2009. As Wendy Lesser wrote in The New York Times, "First novels by young writers who see the world with a fresh, original vision and write about it with clarity and restraint are rare enough to begin with. When you add in the fact that Chloe Aridjis’ “Book of Clouds” is also a stunningly accurate portrait of Berlin, as well as a thoughtful portrayal of a young Mexican Jew drifting through her life abroad, this novel becomes required reading of the mo
...more
Panagiotis Thanopoulos
Τίτλος: Book of Clouds
Συγγραφέας: Chloe Aridjis
Εκδότης: Black Cat, 2009
209 σελίδες

Δεν ξέρω τι αίσθηση μπορεί να αφήσει το βιβλίο αυτό στον ουδέτερο αναγνώστη, αλλά κάποιον λάτρη του Βερολίνου αυτές οι περιπλανήσεις της πρωταγωνίστριας Τατιάνας με το S-Βahn (τον ας πούμε “προαστιακό”) μόνο αδιάφορο δεν θα τον αφήσουν.

Στο πρώτο της μυθιστόρημα η Chloe Aridjis αφηγείται την καθημερινότητα μιας νεαρής Μεξικάνας στο Βερολίνο (που θα μπορούσε να είναι και η ίδια) η οποία βρίσκεται στο ενδιαφέρον μεταί
...more
Rita
Mar 30, 2012 Rita marked it as to-read
KInga writes:
Reading this was like lying on the grass and watching clouds. After two hours nothing truly happened, although something beautiful transpired and you feel like a poet.

As the back cover would tell you ‘Book of Clouds’ is about a Mexican woman adrift in Berlin. I quite liked that this immigrant story did not include the British/American perspective. The world Tatiana came from and the world she came to are both foreign worlds to a regular British or American. Aridjis successfully mar
...more
Jessica
Tatiana is a Mexican expat living in Berlin at the dawn of the 21st century, trying to distance herself from her family and avoiding the development of any new relationships. She takes a part-time job transcribing the notes of an aging historian, and becomes involved with a man she is sent to interview.

About 30 pages in, I had a suspicion and had to flip to the author biography. Yup, Chloe Aridjis is a poet. She has a PhD in poetry, actually. That's something that really shows in this novel. Th
...more
Mythili
Chloe Aridjis’s lithe debut novel is the brooding, dreamy tale of one young Mexican woman’s years in Berlin, the city where she has burrowed herself to escape the crowd of siblings and expectations awaiting her at home. After placing first in a nationwide language exam, Tatiana is awarded a year’s room and board in Germany. She quickly dissolves into Berlin life (“On some days I felt attached to the city and assimilated, on others like some kind of botched transplant with a few renegade veins”), ...more
Catherine Read
This book was on a list of recommended books about Berlin put together by the UK's Guardian. I enjoyed it as a very lyrical character study of both the city and the book's protagonist, Tatiana. So much of what is written about Berlin is historical around WWII. I wanted something that spoke to the modern city. It was a quick read that provided the gestalt of the place which was helpful to have in advance of arriving there.
Tucker
From other's reviews, I glean that some readers are put off by the narrator's detached tone, by her privileged lifestyle, or by her premise that the ghosts of Nazis still (at least through recent decades) infect Berlin. And I will grant that the storyline is weird. Her obsession with the black Xolo dog reminded me of the obsession with the dead black cat in Reticence -- a character determined to find a greater significance than is likely to exist. Nonetheless, I appreciated this book for its mag ...more
Steve Mayer
A good book to read before going to Berlin, as I am, particularly if you think of Berlin as a city of ghosts. The narrator, a young Mexican Jewish woman adrift in Berlin, is pretty disconnected, so you don't meet a lot of Berliners. But you do meet lots of places, some in depth (in more ways than one). It's modestly affecting, with more than a touch of magical realism without the South American lushness.
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1933850
Chloe Aridjis was born in New York and grew up in the Netherlands and Mexico City. After receiving a BA from Harvard, she went on to receive a PhD from Oxford University. A collection of essays on Magic and Poetry in Nineteenth-century France was released in 2005. Her first novel, Book of Clouds, followed in 2009, winning the Prix du Premier Roman Etranger in France.
More about Chloe Aridjis...
Asunder Topografia de Lo Insolito: La Magia y Lo Fantastico Literario en la Francia del Siglo XIX Where You Are: A Collection of Maps That Will Leave You Feeling Completely Lost Hearing Voices: The Litro Anthology of New Fiction The Child Poet

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“After five years I still had the impulse, every ten to twelve months, to find a new home. Spaces became too familiar, too elastic, too accommodating. Boredom and exasperation would set in. And though of course nothing really changed from one roof to another, I liked to harbor the illusion that small variations occurred within, that with each move something was being renewed.” 19 likes
“I had no problem spending Monday through Friday alone, Saturdays were neutral, but each Sunday had to be reckoned with. There's solitude and then there's loneliness. Monday through Saturday were marked by solitude but on Sundays that solitude hardened into something else. I didn't necessarily want to spend my Sundays with someone, but on those days I was simply reminded, in the nagging pitch that only Sundays can have, that I was alone.” 2 likes
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