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3.92  ·  Rating Details  ·  14,679 Ratings  ·  1,139 Reviews
David Mitchell follows his eerily precocious, globe-striding first novel, Ghostwritten, with a work that is in its way even more ambitious. In outward form, number9dream is a Dickensian coming-of-age journey: Young dreamer Eiji Miyake, from remote rural Japan, thrust out on his own by his sister’s death and his mother’s breakdown, comes to Tokyo in pursuit of the father wh ...more
Paperback, 401 pages
Published February 11th 2003 by Random House Trade Paperbacks (first published 2001)
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Cloud Atlas by David MitchellThe Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David MitchellGhostwritten by David Mitchellnumber9dream by David MitchellBlack Swan Green by David Mitchell
David Mitchell
4th out of 10 books — 94 voters
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. RowlingThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsThe Kite Runner by Khaled HosseiniThe Book Thief by Markus ZusakHarry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
Best Books of the 21st Century
446th out of 7,522 books — 18,312 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mar 05, 2012 s.penkevich rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: The life of the mind
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Ian Vinogradus
'Maybe the meaning of life lies in looking for it.'
Like the song by John Lennon which inspired the title of this novel, David Mitchell plays with the fusion of dreams and reality as he sends the reader spiraling through the chimerical passages of Number9dream. This second novel is a departure from the multi-storied structure of Ghostwritten, instead closely following one character. However, it is anything but a simple linear plot and Mitchell shows once again that he can dazzle and dance throug
Ian Vinogradus
How Will I Know?

Whitney Houston sings, “How will I know if he really loves me?”

Pop Music asks some of the most probing questions we can imagine.

Many of them are secular versions of Spirituals, Gospel Music or Hymns.

How will I know if He really loves me?

How will I know if He really exists?

How will I know if He’s really there?

What would I say if he insists?

(Sorry, that last one slipped in from my review of "Glee: How to Plot an Episode in 70 Words".)

To which the tabloid press add:

How could I tell
Stephen M
Oct 11, 2012 Stephen M rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: The stylists not the substantists
Recommended to Stephen M by: Only Mitchell can keep me reading for 150 pages straight
A Study of Tales or
“Like watching a musician play his scales very, very well”


The tension between style and substance dominates a significant portion of the David Mitchell conversation. Fairly consistently Mitchell’s writing falls into the style side of this writing dichotomy. As with anything, it's an issue of taste for anyone who has dipped their hand into the creative writing pot. It splits writers of all different stripes, in genre, literature or otherwise with geniuses on both sides.
Jun 08, 2014 Mary rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 2012
A story about a 20 year old boy-man looking for the dad he's never met. In theory. Yawn. It's like someone said to David Mitchell "Take this cliched plot, drop some acid and see what happens."

And what happens is a lot.

The first chapter had me scratching my head. Wait no, I'll be honest, it wasn't that civilized. It had me kicking my feet and sighing and slamming down my coffee cup and internally screeching what the eff is going on here?! Not much later I realized, oh, ohhhh, this is what's goin
Nov 07, 2011 Steve rated it really liked it
You know those compound German constructions, like schadenfreude, comprised of dissimilar single words? Well, I’ve got a new one that ought to exist if it doesn’t already. It’s schadenselbstungeduld, which translates roughly to “the sadness of your own impatience.” Maybe you can guess why I’m bringing this up. I’ve had a bad case of it since last month when I joined the ranks of several Goodreads friends who have read all five of the David Mitchell books. We’re now waiting long days, weeks, or, ...more
Sep 14, 2009 tim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Number9Dream, what is a relatively administered star-rating system compared to the joy I experience while reading you? Faults and all.

I don't completely understand everything you revealed with my mind awake, but your echo resonates lucidly through my dreamtime. You say: "Time may be what stops everything happening at once, but rules are different asleep." How I know this to be true, yet could never prove.

Fantasies and dreams. Cause and effect. Repeated conclusions reveal nothing where conclusi
Jun 27, 2016 Darwin8u rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013
“Reality is the page. Life is the word.”
― David Mitchell, number9dream


Ah! böwakawa poussé, poussé

Another book I'm going to have to chew on for a bit to really bend my mental tongue around. At first, I was a little disappointed in it. This is my last Mitchell book left to read (I am now a Mitchell completist) and I was hoping for just a little more PoMo juice to squeeze out of his second novel. Three dreams into it and I was afraid Mitchell was aping Murakami (Norwegian Wood, A Wild Sheep Chas
Jan 21, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who didn't like Cloud Atlas
Recommended to Shovelmonkey1 by: nowt but the shiny cover and the cheap price
Mild Seven
Philip Morris
Marlborough Light

That's the number of different cigarette brands cited and smoked in this novel. Frankly, it's a good job that this book only covers 8 weeks in the life of narrator and protagonist, Eeji Miyake, because he's unlikely to live for too much longer.

Follow Miyake as he smokes, gurns, fantasises and bull-shits his way around Tokyo trying to find his long-lost Pops and enjoy the literary games and jousting word-smithery that accompanie

I apologise in advance if this seems more incoherent and rushed than anything I've written previously. I'm just so weirded out by the bizarreness of number9dream that my thoughts are not settled on the book.

Okay what I want to know is what David Mitchell was taking when he wrote this... Seriously this is a whacked out, crazy kind of book that's strangely compulsive reading but doesn't make a lot of sense in places. I must admit that the whole time I was reading it went like this:

First few chapte
Ian Laird
Revisionism: 27 August 2015
It’s a fine winter’s day in Sydney.

Earlier and somewhat dyspeptically, I threw my hands up about number9dream because I was confused. I found the story hard to follow and did not know what was real and what was fantasy.

With time it has occurred to me that I should give more mature consideration to the essence of the story: the fluttering distractions have fallen to the ground and the broader landscape has become clearer. The story is a boy’s search; ostensibly for his
Jun 19, 2011 ·Karen· rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, brits
The devil has all the best tunes, and the fiendish Mr Mitchell is in cahoots with Old Nick for the best stories too. What worries me is what the deal involves? Selling your soul to Mephistopheles is a risky manoeuvre for sure. This, Mitchell's second novel and the last one that I had not read, is the story of one who is punished by the God of Thunder, by being given exactly what he asked for. Beware of what you wish for, as it may be granted. Having lost his twin sister in that deal, bereft of a ...more
Dec 05, 2015 Marianne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Dreams are shores where the ocean of spirit meets the land of matter. Beaches where the yet-to-be, the once-were, the will-never-be may walk amid the still-are”

number9dream is the second novel by British author, David Mitchell. Nineteen-year-old Eiji Miyake arrives in Tokyo looking for his father, a man he has never met, a man whose name he does not even know. He has a letter from a lawyer warning him not to try to find his father, so his first move is to stake out the lawyer’s office from a ca
Apr 16, 2016 Sabrina rated it it was amazing
Maybe closer to a 4.5, but I couldn't bring myself to only mark it 4 stars here. This book is brilliant. I would have loved to have read this and analyzed it to death in school. It begs to be thought upon.

The closest feeling to a Murakami novel without having been penned by Murakami himself.
Apr 30, 2010 JSou rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction

-It is by David Mitchell
-It made me want to go have sushi & sake bombs
-It was surprisingly funny
-Not only did it remind me of Murakami, it referenced The Wind-up Bird Chronicle
-It had the word "knickerbockers"

I was rating this in my head as I went along (something I can't help but do since joining goodreads), and for the first part, I was liking it and thinking 3 stars. Once I hit the halfway point, the Mitchell I know and love emerged, bumping it up to a four. By t
Jul 16, 2016 Chris_P rated it really liked it
What a strange, strange book! How colossally it fucked with my mind. During the first chapter I was thinking "I'll be damned if I have a clue what's going on". The rating I had in mind was in the two-star territory until halfway through. It's not that it was bad, but after Ghostwritten, it wasn't what I expected. For the next few chapters, an additional star made its appearance and then the final chapter happened to me. You read right. It's not so much that you read number9dream as it is it "hap ...more
Liz S.
Oct 16, 2007 Liz S. rated it did not like it
Shelves: book-club, 2007
I probably shouldn't be giving this any stars because I didn't even finish it. This was a book club read and none of us got through it, not even the most die-hard David Mitchell fans. I guess this is proof positive that a knack for writing will not save your book if you have nothing particular to say. As one person in our group described it, reading this book is like watching a musician play his scales very, very well---but after a while, you just want to hear him play an actual song for a susta ...more
Oct 23, 2014 Deea rated it really liked it
Shelves: shortlist-mbp
This novel has an open ending, but there are clues regarding the possible developments of the story all over the last chapter. Although it has eight chapters and each has a name, the author ends the book with the ninth chapter which is simply called "Nine" and left empty. "The ninth dream begins after every ending", says David Mitchell, continuing the subtle insinuation that the story is to be continued in our imagination, but taking into account several clues from the last chapter: "Time may be ...more
I am so torn over this book! But I figure that being this conflicted between ratings probably means that I should err on the side of the fewer stars. Still: My kingdom for a half-star option!

There are lots of things I liked. Eiji, the main character, remains likable even as he's shuttled between hell and back, like, five thousand times in 400 pages and disappointed by nearly everyone who matters to him. There's a chance that his blossoming relationship with Ai contributed to my increasing fondne
Set in Japan in the present or perhaps the near future, with several versions of early bits of the plot. Is it real or is it a computer game - certainly he plays computer games? Some wonderful metaphors and some ludicrously contrived and awkward ones. Too much organised crime and mindless violence for my taste, with little of the beauty of his other books to provide balance or contrast. (Number 9 Dream is a Beatles song that plays at a disco in Black Swan Green ( ...more
Vit Babenco
Oct 07, 2015 Vit Babenco rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Eiji Miyake is looking for his father but he finds many different things…
“Squeeze, squelch, squirt. Crocodiles scream, even underwater. The jaws unscissor and the monster thrashes off in spirals. Lao Tzu mimes applause, but I have already gone three minutes without air and the surface is impossibly distant. I kick feebly upwards. Nitrogen fizzes in my brain. Sluggishly I fly, and the ocean sings. Face submerged, searching for me from the stone whale, is my waitress, loyal to the last, hair strea
Oct 23, 2015 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-ebook
Spending New Year's away from home with less than a chapter left in my book – and no back-up book – was always going to be a stupid mistake. Luckily, when everybody else foolishly headed out for a New Year's Day walk in the rain I was able to raid my host's bookcase and grabbed a copy of David Mitchell's number9dream; I'd enjoyed Cloud Atlas enough to try something from earlier...

number9dream is the story of Eiji Miyake: a twenty year old Japanese lad from Yukashima who has arrived in Tokyo with
I gave number9dream five stars way back when I first started rating books around here, but it was far enough removed from reading the book that I didn't feel I could write a review, so there is no chronicle of why I gave it five stars.

Since then I have read most of David Mitchell's stuff, but number9dream was my first, so it retains pride of place. I was turned onto it the winter I went home to Canada for Christmas because for some reason that year I decided I was going to read everything short
May 07, 2015 Lilith rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2015
Hay libros que suponen un auténtico reto. Cada uno de los lectores es víctima del suyo propio. Hay libros como Lolita que no están hechos para todo el mundo. Autores que se resisten por mucho que uno lo intente pero también otro tipo de barreras. El de Number9dream es el idioma. Pero no os asustéis antes de tiempo, David Mitchell asusta pero no tanto. Simplemente hay que tener cierto nivel y paciencia, paciencia para entender qué está pasando. Paciencia para avanzar mucho más lento que de costum ...more

No less than 5 amazing stars.

Originally posted here.

Nine things about number9dream

1. That was one helluva whirlwind read! Alternating between reality and fantasies-cum-dreams took me for a loop, but I'd gladly do it again. No one can do that to me and totally awe me like Mitchell just did.

2. Is this metafiction? Are there traces of metafiction in this novel? If the answer is yes to either question, then I think I could definitely get used to the genre.

3. "Maybe the meaning of life lies in l
Jan 03, 2009 Tara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
number9dream was nearly as awesome as cloud atlas--and still a 5 star novel.

this book demonstrates one of the things i love most about mitchell--his ability to write in a number of different voices convincingly within the same novel (hardboiled/cyberpunk/actiony, the weird and whimsical goatwriter stories, the diary of a japanese soldier in WW2), which he accomplishes here without sacrificing the clarity and honesty of his narrator's voice. eiji miyake is one of the most likeable protagonists
Jan 25, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it
This was the second novel in my year end David Mitchell readathon and is the second novel he published. I went into it having read no reviews of it, therefore having no preconceived notions except excited anticipation because of how much I admired Ghostwritten.

Eiji Miyake is a young man who has left the tiny Japanese village where he grew up to go in search of the father he has never met. He is 20 years old but seems younger, probably due to his limited experience of city life. The reader soon
Evelyn Rose
Jan 24, 2013 Evelyn Rose rated it really liked it
David Mitchell’s novel Number9dream sees his readers thrown head first down the rabbit hole; entering the streets of Tokyo while gasping for air as they follow twenty year old Eiji Miyake on a quest to find his father.

Yet this is not the first time that Mitchell has revealed his Asiatic inspired Wonderland: his debut Ghostwritten published in 1999 received the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for writers aged thirty-five and under. Ghostwritten was praised not only for its intricate plots, but also for
Jan 21, 2013 S. rated it liked it
David Michell's (b. 1969) sophomore slump, written 2001 while he was still in his eight-year stint teaching English to technical students in Hiroshima, a step down from the 1999 debut 'Ghostwritten' and definitely weaker than the charmed 'Cloud Atlas,' number9dream sounds better in concept than in reality: a "dream-like montage of modern Tokyo set against a boy's search for his father." Unfortunately, while that sounds good in idea, the actual execution suffers from the irredemable flaw of "drea ...more
Patrick McCoy
About three years ago a friend gave me a copy of a novel written by an English teacher living in Hiroshima. I had expected not to like it and was pleasantly surprised and wrote a book review, which became my first professional journalistic piece (i.e. I was paid for it), it was a book review of David Mitchell's impressive debut, Ghostwritten.

It wasn't until recently that I read his follow up, number9dream (2001), I'm not sure why I waited so long, since, I, myself, had pointed out that he had en
Aug 12, 2012 S. rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
number9dream is a story about 20-year old Miyake set in modern Tokyo with its coffee shops and pizzerias, its subways, mafia and video parlors. Miyake goes there to find his father, whom he’s never met, and to ease the tight cord that binds him to his twin sister, whose death he feels responsible for. It is a hectic book, which is a bit much at the beginning with its false starts, but it finds its groove.

I admit I went back and forth on the book, finding it sometimes too busy, sometimes tedious
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Part 9 6 89 Dec 04, 2015 09:43PM  
Presenting a new David Mitchell discussion forum 1 13 Oct 02, 2015 09:50AM  
Reading Buddy Style: September 2014: number9dream-Ema 1 10 Aug 31, 2014 07:52AM  
Reading Buddy Style: BOTM for September 3 5 Aug 12, 2014 01:48PM  
What are the different narratives buried in each of the chapters? 4 121 Nov 28, 2013 12:07PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Book description is actually a review 3 46 Apr 04, 2013 09:48AM  
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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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“A book you finish reading is not the same book it was before you read it.” 218 likes
“Dreams are shores where the ocean of spirit meets the land of matter. Dreams are beaches where the yet-to-be, the once-were, the will-never-be may walk awhile with the still are.” 96 likes
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