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4.05  ·  Rating details ·  27,618 ratings  ·  2,395 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, 436 pages
Published August 19th 1999 by Sceptre
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Nic Dafis True devotees read one section at a time, starting with "Okinawa" in Ghostwritten, then "Lost Property" in number9dream, then "The Pacific Journal of …moreTrue devotees read one section at a time, starting with "Okinawa" in Ghostwritten, then "Lost Property" in number9dream, then "The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing (Part 1)" from Cloud Atlas, and so on until you get to his latest book. Read the first and *last* sections of that, then start working your way back, reading the final sections of everything until you reach "Underground" in Ghostwritten, from whence you loop back around through the second sections of each book. You get the idea.

If he publishes a new book during this process, you have to start again, otherwise it'll make no sense.(less)
Heidi I can only speak for his newest novel (Utopia Avenue), but that one is not a short story compilation. I don't believe his others are either :) …moreI can only speak for his newest novel (Utopia Avenue), but that one is not a short story compilation. I don't believe his others are either :) (less)

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Average rating 4.05  · 
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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.

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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 fir
Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
”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
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
Ian "Marvin" Graye
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
Steven Godin

David Mitchell's first novel is a striking and stylized Piece of writing, that lights the fuse and fires off into ten different narratives, globe-trotting from Asia to Europe and back again. Starting with the sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway, we would move to a young jazz buff falling in love, a tea shack in a China gripped by the revolution, a spiritual awakening in Mongolia, some dodgy characters involved with art fraud in Petersberg, and a ghost writer in London that lives above a p
Dec 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Mitchell, LOST, Murakami, and fans of reading in general
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Ian "Marvin" Graye
’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
Jul 04, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I will leave that to chance
Shelves: read-in-2019
The idea of crossed paths has always fascinated me. The randomness of it, of chance encounters and all the serendipitous circumstances that bring two people together, if only for a few seconds.
Whenever I sit next to a complete stranger, my imagination is set on fire. I can’t help wondering all kind of things about him or her. Where is that person going? From where? Is he or she happy with life, with his/her circumstances? My mind starts creating a story, almost involuntarily, tying up the knots
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 feel like any review I make of this novel will be an unfair one, so I heartily recommend that you read some of the absolutely gorgeous reviews already out there, but I will leave you with a single impression:

The Uncertainty principle Thus applied to writing fiction (or Science Fiction): You can know where a story is at any point in time or you can know its velocity (it's pacing), but you can never know both at the same time.


Seriously, this book is pretty damn awesome. Each of the nine viewpo
Nandakishore Varma
Mar 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Oh my God. Can David Mitchell write.

Reading this book, you will never think it's a first novel; Mitchell's mastery of the written word is so consummate. The prose flows, one word after another, forming sentences, paragraphs and chapters in natural progression. The skill of the author is evident in the fact that he himself is invisible - the story seems to write itself, thus justifying the title of the novel in a fashion.

This novel -"in nine parts", as Mitchell calls it - is a series of interconn
Sep 30, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-english
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
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
May 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018

Like the great Russians, Mitchell makes us feel that more is at stake than individual lives, although it's by individual lives that pain and loss are measured.

I don't usually start my reviews with cover blurbs, but this one from 'Los Angeles Times' seems appropriate for describing in a very concise form the scope of the project and the underlying humanism of the intellectual exercise.

Also appropriate, in retrospect, is the use of a quote from Thornton Wilder's "The Bridge of San Luis Rey
"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 thr
Vit Babenco
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“History is made of people’s desires.”
And quite so often it is made of failed desires…
The double-crossed, might-have-been history of my country is not the study of what actually took place here: it’s the study of historians’ studies.

The history we know isn’t the real history – it’s a ghostwritten history.
Evolution and history are the bagatelle of particle waves.

All in this world is interconnected by the play of chance and history is a product of this play.
Krok Zero
May 22, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: summer-2010
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
Jun 07, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The most admirable thing about this novel is its ambition. Had I read this when it came out and Mitchell was a new unknown author maybe I would have been a lot more impressed. But having read Mitchell’s best novels my expectations were, unfairly perhaps, up very high. The ten episodes that make up this novel deal with globalisation, terrorism, banking fraud, conspiracy theory, particle physics – in other words the most pressing issues of our times.

The biggest problem for me was I found the char
Megan Baxter
Apr 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ghostwritten, and ghostridden and by a ghost, ridden.

This is my second David Mitchell, and I like it almost as much as the first one I read, which was Cloud Atlas, and absolutely blew my socks off. I think Cloud Atlas is a more masterful and audacious use of the same technique that you can see developing in Ghostwritten, but I enjoyed it in its developing stages here quite a lot.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You ca
Feb 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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.
Matthew Quann
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
5 Selected Pairings for David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten

1. A Pot of Light/Dark Roast Blend

You’ll want yourself a large pot of coffee to go along with Ghostwritten, one that gives you a boost of caffeine, but doesn’t sacrifice the rich complexity of the best mugs of java. Like the coffee, Ghostwritten is an energetic and complex blend. You’ll want coffee as a companion through the read, but also to help you stay sharp as Mitchell challenges and demands your attention.

2. 22, A Million by Bon Iver

Apr 26, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audible
David Mitchell is brilliant. Hard to believe this is his first novel.

I wish that I had read David Mitchell's novels in the order they were written. He not only is the master of linked narratives he links his books/characters both forwards and backwards as well.

I really liked the interconnectedness (is that a word?) in this novel. Not just between the stories but the bigger notion of being connected in the world.

I only have 2 of his novels left to read so I hope he writes another one soon.
Oct 27, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm kicking myself for not jumping on the Mitchell bandwagon sooner. I loved the focus on interconnectedness and the debate of fate vs. free will. "We're all ghostwritters, my boy. And it's not just our memories. Our actions, too. We all think we're in control of our own lives, but really they're pre-ghostwritten by forces around us." And this: "The human world is made of stories, not people. The people the stories use to tell themselves are not to be blamed."

Mitchell utilizes a wide array of ch
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
Feb 21, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s easy to miss an important reference, or two, or three, while reading a David Mitchell novel – I learned that the hard way. After flipping the final page of the Ghostwritten, I did one of these moves: (think Lou Costello).

Then I swallowed my pride and headed off to Wiki to find some answers. Here’s me while reading Wikipedia’s page on Ghostwritten: “Missed that…Definitely didn’t see that…Was that even in the book?...Hey, there’s something I remember!” I’m exaggerating a little, but you get t
Caro the Helmet Lady
It's pretty hard to write about the book that I was rather breathing than reading. Yes, I loved it. As much as I liked (adored) Cloud Atlas, I'd probably rate this one a bit higher (but only in my mind, because GR has no half stars, boo). This was Mitchell's debut book, which is kind of incredible. To write in a language that is so beautiful, to create worlds that are so polished and so finished - for a debut!
The novel is a set of 9 stories that are connected by a net of coincidences, characters
Jun 18, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ghostwritten is one of those books which, halfway through, you know they are right in the 4-star territory and that the ending will be decisive as to whether it will be a 3, 4 or 5-star case. My rating tells a story.

What a ride it was! In Ghostwritten David Mitchell invites us on a journey which starts in Okinawa and takes us to Tokyo, Honk Kong, Holy Mountain of China, Mongolia, Petersburg, London, Clear Island of Ireland and New York before it ends right where it started. Each chapter consists
Apr 11, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
“Memories are their own descendents masquerading as the ancestors of the present.”
― David Mitchell, Ghostwritten


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 befo
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Sep 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
Betsy Robinson
Oct 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book left me gasping, groaning, holding my exploding head. I have no idea how to review it. Here's a quote:
"Lunatics are writers whose works write them, Bat."

"Not all lunatics are writers, Mrs. Rey—believe me."

"But most writers are lunatics, Bat—believe me. The human world is made of stories, not people. The people the stories use to tell themselves are not to be blamed. You are holding one of the pages where these stories tell themselves . . ." (311)

Who are we? Who or what makes life happ
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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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