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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  11,149 ratings  ·  873 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, 320 pages
Published March 15th 2001 by Sceptre (first published 2001)
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Mar 05, 2012 s.penkevich rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The life of the mind
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Ian Heidin-Seek
'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 Heidin-Seek
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 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
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.
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
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
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
Jan 21, 2012 Shovelmonkey1 rated it 3 of 5 stars
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
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

-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
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 Chase) and Joyce (Finnegans Wake) a bit too much in his persuit of a dreamy f
Liz S.
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
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 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

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 lo
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
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
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
Meghan Fidler
Number9dream is infectious--I had trouble putting it down. David Mitchell has incredible story telling ability, and I admire the skill and fieldwork in a different country necessary to make this novel a reality.
I was disappointed with the Yakuza plot turn. The violence was as overwritten as the descriptions of the main protagonists first two cups of coffee. This additive in the story felt hackneyed, especially given the turn towards a kamakazi-ish diary entry later (this, however, deserves some
Somewhat disappointing, but only because I have such high expectations of Mitchell.

This is a coming of age tale set in Japan. A boy sets off to Tokyo to find the father he has never known. It contains all the Mitchell elements, but just not quite at the same level of his later novels. I have not read his first novel, Ghostwritten, yet so I don't know if it is similar in that respect. However, it is still a very well written and enjoyable book...though I'll admit the plot gets a tad frustrating.
Evelyn Rose
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
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
Alan Chen
David Mitchell is such a good writer and there are parts of this book where the prose just sizzles, but because he's so talented, the issues I have with it are even more jarring. The book feels like David Mitchell got a writing assignment to compose a work in the world of Haruki Murakami with emphasis on Kafka on the Shore. Eiji is from some small town in Japan and goes to the big city of Tokyo looking for his father. During the course of events he works shitty jobs, gets embroiled with the yaku ...more
Jan 21, 2008 Micha rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: seekers of meaning.
“Maybe the meaning of life lies in looking for it.” “Who is right? Individually, we all are. Generally, none of us are.”

I have always been one to look for meaning in everything I do. Call me an idealist or a fool, I NEED to know that there is more, so much more. David Mitchell's book has given me hope to believe that there still is meaning in today's world. As the naive narrator, a youth from the country, journeys into the heart of the fast-paced, overwhelming Tokyo, he learns more about himself
I'm reading all of David Mitchell's books in a bid to impress Cecily, whose tastes are worlds more refined than mine. Okay, that's only true on one level. More correctly, I wanted to read The Bone Clocks and thought it might be fulfilling if I started from the beginning and understood the shared mindspace, if not world of Mitchell's works. Also, I figured by the time I worked my way through the novel backlog, my library would actually have available copies of the newest book.

My track record wit
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
Chris Blocker
I recently implied that David Mitchell could do no wrong. Without a doubt, he is a tremendously talented author. Then I began reading number9dream and was immediately worried I'd have to eat my words. number9dream starts unlike any other Mitchell book; sure Mitchell has an eclectic style, but there's a certain feel to his books—the idea that regardless of subject or genre, all the stories are somehow tied together. number9dream didn't feel like a part of the Mitchell universe—it felt more like a ...more
Paola (A Novel Idea)
Originally posted at A Novel Idea


Tokyo is an overwhelming, perplexing, and generally strange place to Eiji Miyake, who has arrived in the city on a mission: to find his long-lost father. Eiji, a dreamer whose imaginings are often nearly seamlessly intertwined with reality, finds himself caught in something even bigger and more mind-boggling than he ever thought possible. From vivid daydreams in a crowded coffee shop to dangerous encounters with Tokyo’s dark underground, every corner h
I found Number9Dream rewarding and frustrating in equal measure. The book follows a naive, video-game obsessed country boy named Eiji Miyake on his quest to find his father in a hyper-modern Tokyo. Miyake makes his way through the low-wage world of video stores, pizza delivery shacks, and love motels. In the course of his search gets mixed up with bloodthirsty Yakuza gang, falls for a beautiful waitress who also happens to be a brilliant pianist, and is taken under the wing of a debauched young ...more
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Reading Buddy Style: September 2014: number9dream-Ema 1 7 Aug 31, 2014 07:52AM  
Reading Buddy Style: BOTM for September 3 3 Aug 12, 2014 01:48PM  
What are the different narratives buried in each of the chapters? 4 95 Nov 28, 2013 12:07PM  
Part 9 5 75 Jul 06, 2013 11:00AM  
Goodreads Librari...: Book description is actually a review 3 42 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.” 179 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.” 77 likes
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