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Book of Clouds

3.37  ·  Rating details ·  746 Ratings  ·  147 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 th ...more
Paperback, 209 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by Grove Press, Black Cat (first published 2009)
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Kinga
Feb 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Ursula
Sep 04, 2009 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
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. The sex scene is described in such exceedingly chaste terms that it appears the author was shy or uncomfortable writing it. There are moments of beauty in th ...more
Judy
Apr 12, 2009 rated it it was ok
Why did this get magnificent reviews--a young / pretty author? So much of the writing was not good, the scenes obvious constructs.
Kerfe
May 29, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Rachel
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: ggi-bookclub
While there are some beautiful passages that I felt read true about my own experiences in Germany, the book lacked momentum and I wasn't fond of the narrators complacency, which oftentimes came across as mopey or listless. Tatiana's clouds or dreams or delusions, or whatever you want to call them, weren't interesting enough to make me feel connected to this "slice of life" story.
Sam
Jul 07, 2009 rated it it was amazing

"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
Mind the Book
Debut av nu Londonbaserad mexikansk författare med fett kulturellt kapital. I Frankrike förärad 'Prix du Premier Roman Etranger'.

Ojämn, men är ju svag för melankoliska flanörromaner. Berlinmiljön är mkt bekant och härlig, med S-bahnnörderier och Fernsehturmkärlek. men bjuder också på nya bilder i huvudet, t.ex. molnfantasten som sitter på 18:e våningen i sitt Plattenbau i Marzahn och pratar alltmedan han omedvetet skapar egna mentholcigarettmoln.

#BOTNS-bingo: Självgott fnissande kryssar jag kat
...more
Ann-sofie
Aug 05, 2016 rated it really liked it
Min gode vän och följeslagare i Berlin. 4 ⭐ och tack för det. Den har sina sidor och jag vet precis hur den sista fjärdedelen borde ha skrivits. Men läs den. I Berlin. ...more
Andrew
Aug 20, 2011 rated it liked it
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
Lee Razer
Aug 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-fiction
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
Lynn
Oct 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-club
This book freaked me out a bit at parts as I celebrated 5 years in Hamburg while reading about the main character having spent 5 years in Berlin. I enjoyed the parts of life in Germany as I could so closely relate; however, at times it was also tedious because I felt like I was reading about parts of my every day life which I try to escape through reading! A lovely little book though though.
Lisa
Jul 23, 2009 rated it liked it
One of those books that is very well written but doesn't really go anywhere ... but makes you think ...
Mary Warnement
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rosamund
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-2017, berlin
I can sum the book up in one word: implausible.

There's the fact the protagonist has lived in Berlin five years and hasn't met anyone who sticks with her. The book is also littered with words nobody uses in real life (at one point a character says 'Look at those noctilucent clouds'. They are a cloud expert, but you wouldn't just drop that into conversation without explaining yourself... this is just one example of the wooden dialogue featured in the book). Then the magical realism bit at the end
...more
Yentl Reynders
The most uneventful book I’ve read in a long time.
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 added it
Shelves: mexican
When inadequate imagination leads the reader out of the book and to the author

"Book of Clouds" is well enough observed, paced, and structured. It has some ingredients of 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
...more
Ugh
Jun 07, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Damian
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Shinelle
Mar 09, 2010 rated it liked it
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
Kasey Jueds
Feb 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
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
Sorayya Khan
Aug 10, 2016 rated it liked it
It's true, not much happens in this novel. The story is served as much by Berlin as a city and the secrets it holds as it is by Tatiana, the protagonist. To me, the novel is about the solitariness of exile, even if it is chosen in the specific way the narrator has made it hers. Tatiana floats from her apartment down the stairs to the street, on the chair on which she transcribes a historian's interviews, in the underground tunnels that hold secrets of the past. The book is more sketch than story ...more
Oren
Jun 16, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
Sep 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Angela
Jan 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
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.
Bokoholist
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Ett måste om du fascineras av Berlin.
Lauren
Mar 08, 2009 rated it it was ok
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.
Phillip Ramm
May 31, 2017 rated it really liked it
An odd, quiet portrait of the city of Berlin and its divided past, with visits ghost U-bahn stations; pitch-black, underground Nazi bowling alleys; the echoing Holocaust memorial at night - from the perspective of a shy Mexico-raised woman on an extended working holiday.
As a young tourist on a previous visit with her family , she saw Hitler on the train and became fascinated with Germany. She had arrived this time as a young adult on a Goethe Institute scholarship. [I'm not sure what Visa allow
...more
Rachel Stevenson
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
You can't just dip into this book, you have to fully immerse yourself in it, much like the heroine, Tatiana, who has submerged herself so completely in Berlin that she starts hearing ghosts in the apartment below her, seeing them in an underground bowling alley, feeling them in the Holocaust memorial. As historian Dr Weiss, says:
"Everything here is shifting and shifting, but you can't forget it all forms part of a long continuum...Nothing ever vanishes."
Tatiana details her time spent in Berlin
...more
Ela
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Possibly one of the best portrayal of Berlin I have ever read. Chloe Aridjis captures a city haunted by its past, combining the physical modernity of the city with an otherworldliness which as a visitor to the city I always find fascinating. To Aridjis Berlin is a city dissected by history and the protagonists isolated lifestyle makes this all the more apparent.+

Stylistically this novella is rather vague and dreamlike but its grounded by the physical realities of Berlin as a city. A very fast no
...more
Louise Jones
ummm at times loved the book and at other s wished their was more substance but on the whole liked it because of the language a nd just one of the most beautiful way of constrcting words together . their was a few surprises along the way which made me gasp with wonder / shock but cld imagine lots of people giving up on the book and like a jugsaw not s eeing the full picture til u get to the end !!!!
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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.

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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.” 31 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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