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Utopia Avenue

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  11,420 ratings  ·  2,136 reviews
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - The long-awaited new novel from the bestselling, prize-winning author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks.

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post - NPR - USA Today - The Guardian - The Independent - Kirkus Reviews - Men's Health - PopMatters

Utopia Avenue is the strangest British band you've never heard of. Emerging from Lo
...more
ebook, 592 pages
Published July 14th 2020 by Sceptre
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Popular Answered Questions
Molly My favorite of Mitchell's work is The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. I'd start there. …moreMy favorite of Mitchell's work is The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. I'd start there. (less)
Tim With a character surnamed "de Zoet", I'm pretty sure the answer is yes. :-)…moreWith a character surnamed "de Zoet", I'm pretty sure the answer is yes. :-)(less)

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Average rating 4.03  · 
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Violet wells
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was ok
I hate to say this but, after some entertainment early on, I found Utopia Avenue irritating, vapid and often boring. My love affair with Mitchell reached its peak with Cloud Atlas. The decline began with The Bone Clocks and Slade House. They at least though were entertaining in their silly madcap way. This often struck me as a novel written with too much glee and not enough artistry.

Mitchell loves the band he's created. He writes about them with fidgety infatuated excitement. He lovingly descri
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Vit Babenco
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Offspring of the swinging sixties were flower children and rock musicians. Now, ‘looking through a glass onion’, David Mitchell recreates that fabulous psychedelic epoch…
‘The Beatles, the Stones, the Who, the Kinks,’ says Griff. ‘They’re not trying to change the world. They don’t buy their mansions by writing anthems about CND or making a socialist paradise. They’re just out to make fookin’ good music.’
‘The best pop songs are art,’ says Jasper. ‘Making art is already a political act. The artist
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Kyle
People of Goodreads, this one was worth the wait! David Mitchell is a gift to the literary world, and his groovy new novel, Utopia Avenue, TOPS THE CHARTS! This may very well be my favorite of the year (and it’s only February!).

First things first: I LIIIIIIIVED for the music, pop culture, film, and history references in this book. David Mitchell chose his decade and setting well for this outing. The 60’s London music scene was (and is!) I-CO-NIC, but it was also a decade of momentous change, con
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Marchpane
“the supreme enemy of all Utopias—boredom.”
―Arthur C. Clarke


With its goofy celebrity cameos, cheesy dialogue and affable but wooden characters, Utopia Avenue is a bit like an extended Doctor Who episode set in the Swinging Sixties except it’s much less fun and takes itself way too seriously.

This novel is too long, too dull, and unconvincing as a 1960s period piece. I can’t see that it adds anything to the Mitchellverse that we don’t already know from previous novels (I haven’t read them all, so
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Nilufer Ozmekik
Mar 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Welcome to the swinging sixties: to the world of youth-driven revolution, modernism combines with hedonism showing its creative flourishing at the art, music, fashion. The world of Vietnam War, hippies, drugs, sex, rebellion, rock n roll! But this is not a story about Four Liverpool boys conquer the world with their rhythm and charisma or the other band members made us empathize with devil and taught us the importance of having satisfaction.

Nope this story is about Utopia Avenue, one of the stra
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Richard
Jan 13, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: current-lit-uk
Utopia Avenue chronicles the life and times of a British psychedelic rock band who shine brightly for a while in the late sixties, charting their journey from humble beginnings to fame and infamy. This big novel paints a colourful picture of the music industry and life in the 1960’s - it’s druggy idealism, long hair and explosion of sexual and musical experimentation. It’s also a change of direction for David Mitchell who is more typically known for his ‘linked short story’ style of writing - Cl ...more
Henk
Sep 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned
Despite the for me unappealing topic a surprising heart wrenching book, elevated by its connections to the Mitchellverse and the normal wit and literary craftsmanship on a sentence level of the author
Art is memory made public. Time wins in the long run. Books turn to dust, negatives decay, records get worn out, civilizations burn. But as long as the art endures, a song or a view or a thought or a feeling someone once thought worth keeping is saved and stays shareable. Others can say, “I feel tha
...more
Jeffrey Keeten
Aug 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 1960-s, music
”’We’re like…

Princesses in the age of dynastic marriages.’

Janis bites her lower lip and nods. ‘And our fame raises the value of locker-room bragging. Which the guys gain from. Oh, yeah, Janis Joplin? I know Janis. She gave me head on the unmade bed. I hate it. But how do you fight it? Or change it? Or survive it?’

‘I’m not on your level yet,’ says Elf. ‘Have you any advice?’

‘No advice. Only a fear and a name: Billie Holiday.’

Elf takes a third sip of Brutal Truth. ‘Didn’t Billie Holiday die a hero
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Hanneke
Aug 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Expect the unexpected! Isn’t that always the case with any new novel by David Mitchell? After ‘The Bone Clocks’ and ‘Slade House’, I was certainly not expecting a straightforward narrative and I must confess that this made me initially nervous, even a bit anxious, because I feared that David Mitchell had decided to write a novel in a conventional way just to show he is capable to do that magnificently as well.

Thus, to my surprise, I did not encounter any unexpected strange or fantastical events
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Doug
Feb 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5, rounded up.

In many respects, this is a departure for Mr. Mitchell, and I think how people will react to it will largely depend on whether they are long-time die-hard aficionados (as I AM!) ... or if this is their first exposure to this definitely sui generis author. This chronicle of two years in the formation and rise to fame of a late sixties 'psychedelic/pop/rock/folk' group could easily be seen as just a more literary version of the recent best-seller Daisy Jones & The Six - since it t
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Nat K

" 'I hear knocking. Don't you?' 'Knocking? What's knocking?' 'Opportunity.' ”

You'll smell the patchouli and the rain.

I should say upfront that it probably helps if you have a keen interest in music, and 1960s music at that, to get the most from this story. As well as enjoying the vibe, fashion and thoughts of that period. But how could you not?! If that’s your thing, you’re off to a flying start. And if you’re not, this will make you a new devotee.

This novel is sectioned into three parts, which
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fourtriplezed
David Mitchell quotes one famous rock musician saying that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” I had read this quote before and that there was some debate as to who said it.

Whoever said it may have had a point depending on one’s view on the topic of writing about music. Writing about any of the arts in general is fraught with danger. Aesthetic values are a very individual pursuit, as is reading and then reviewing a book on Goodreads. I was telling some work colleagues who
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Peter Boyle
Jul 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
A couple of years ago, I attended an event in Dublin where two authors chose a treasured album and talked about its effect on their lives. One of them was David Mitchell, and he selected Blue by his namesake Joni. He spoke passionately about his admiration for this record, dissecting its lyrics and rhapsodizing about his favourite tracks. Mitchell's deep knowledge and love of music shone through, so when he mentioned that his next book was about a British rock group, set in 1967, it shot instant ...more
Hugh
Jul 22, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2020, modern-lit
I find David Mitchell a slightly frustrating writer, but there is always plenty to enjoy in his books. As I have said before, I find the fantasy elements of his imaginary world and his battling immortals far fetched and impossible to take seriously, but when he writes about subjects more grounded in reality he can be engaging and perceptive.

Music and musicians are notoriously difficult subject matter for literature, but for me this book does it pretty well, and I found it a lot more convincing t
...more
Michael
Wonderfully refreshing and fun tale of the birth and rapid rise of a British folk-rock band in the interval of 1967-68. The characters are vivid and the portrayal of their trials and tribulations are moving and touching, their triumphs at various stages exhilarating. A guilty pleasure for me was all the cameo appearances and formative interactions with many famous musicians, such as Janis, Jimi, Bowie, Sandy Denny and Leonard Cohen. After a slow period of hard-knocks, the tale accelerates after ...more
Julie Ehlers
When the hefty ARC of Utopia Avenue turned up in my mailbox, it immediately felt promising to me. Sure, I’d never read any David Mitchell (sorry), but of course I’d heard many great things, and the plot of this novel—concerning a rock band in sixties London—sounded amazing. (It didn’t hurt that both the title and the cover reminded me of my beloved Telegraph Avenue—although I have no idea if that will delight or annoy most Mitchell fans.)

At the beginning, Utopia Avenue seemed poised to live up t
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Blair
David Mitchell's new novel is the history of a fictional band. Utopia Avenue form in 1967, as the hippy idealism of the free-love Sixties is colliding with the bleeding edge of rock 'n' roll. There are four members, three of whom get their own detailed backstories and subplots. Elf is a folk singer battling sexism and figuring out her sexuality. Jasper is a posh, eccentric guitar prodigy, heavily implied to be on the autistic spectrum ('emotional dyslexia' is the term used in the book). Dean, th ...more
Ron Charles
David Mitchell’s groovy new rock novel belts out the lives of a fictional band in such vivid tones that you may imagine you once heard the group play in the late ’60s. Set in London when “new labels are springing up like mushrooms,” “Utopia Avenue” is a story of creative synthesis, one of those astonishing moments when a few disparate individuals suddenly fall into harmony and change the sound of an era. Mitchell — cult writer, critical darling, popular novelist — knows much about the unpredicta ...more
Andrew Smith
Feb 16, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
I wasn’t convinced I was doing the right thing by spending an Audible credit on a long (over 25 hours) audiobook from an writer I’d only had one experience with – a bad one as it happened. I found the author’s Cloud Atlas impressively clever but nonetheless pretty much incomprehensible, so why would I dip my toe in that particular pond again? Well, simply because I’d heard really good things about it.

Utopia Avenue is a band, put together in 1967 by Canadian manager Levon Franklin. It comprises
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Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer
a song Dean had written for a soundtrack expanded, like fractals, into a three-part unfinished masterpiece


I sat down to write this review, as something of a maybe-reader of David Mitchell’s novels (a huge fan of his earlier works, but less than convinced by his most recent efforts), they were the best-of-books (culminating in Cloud Atlas) and the worst-of-books (“Slade House” – which was a kind of twitter-feed, novella, other).

But while I was trying to write it, I was constantly interrupted:
...more
Neale
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
If you grew up loving live music. If you grew up, not being able to sleep a week before your favourite band were playing at your city. If you grew up collecting albums and the artwork on the sleeves. In short if you grew up in a world of music that has now followed the dinosaur into extinction you will probably love this novel.

This novel is set in the 60’s, a golden era for music. The age of the super band. The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Hendrix. It is set in a world where bands worked their
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Bradley
Sep 14, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I place this Mitchell novel in the firm hands of the ladies Muse not because it is gifted by the muses (although some people will say so) but because the tale is all about music and the entire gifted milieu of the mid-to-late '60s rock scene.

For this, alone, I got sucked into the torrent of the band. Utopia Avenue, from its struggling beginnings through its rocky career and a brief taste of stardom is more than enough for me. I love this kind of novel. I love music, I love the rebellion, I love
...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, read2020
I'm a huge fan of David Mitchell (I couldn't fit all the books into the picture) and this novel was highly anticipated, *and* I love novels with a music theme. This novel is about a band in 1960s UK, and the chapters move between their perspectives as new songs are written and recorded (the sections of the book are grouped by sides.) There are a lot of connections to his other works, because everything is all part of one übernovel - those parts were very fun to discover but I won't spoil them he ...more
·Karen·
Jul 31, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: coverlove, brits
Here's a timely reminder of what we are all missing* in these 'extraordinary times': the buzz, the energy, the thrill, the joy, the rush of real live musicians playing in front of a real live audience. There's nothing like it.

Except, perhaps, a novel by David Mitchell.

Gleefully energetic, compulsively readable, and the banter between the band members is a blast. As for the weird horology stuff where Mitchell refers back to his previous oeuvre, well, you can read that however you like. It's eithe
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Faith
Jul 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The blurb describes Utopia Avenue as “the strangest band you’ve never heard of”. I didn’t find the band all that strange. The four 20-something band members seemed pretty standard issue for a folk rock group of the 1960s. They had family problems and money issues. They were growing up and exploring their sexuality as they tried to create their music and get it heard. The guitarist also had serious mental problems. He was the most interesting character.

The author name drops a lot of musicians of
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Eric Anderson
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's so interesting coming to this novel having read and admired – but not entirely loving - much of David Mitchell's fiction. His novels encompass a wide range of subject matter and diverse group of characters. Yet there's something so distinct about his writing style which I thought was exemplified in his most recent (uncharacteristically short) novel “Slade House”. Mitchell often builds realistic stories about the lives of individual characters into a larger fantastical narrative that bends t ...more
Tony
I have this principle that I shouldn't start a review until I have answered that most fundamental of questions: Did I like the book? And I've spent the four days since I finished this book cogitating about that.

Oh, I agree with a lot of what's said in the growing negative reviews. Some parts of the book, some characters, are stereotyped and shallow. The name-dropping made me wince. Names and ideas are recycled from previous books. When the plot gets written into a corner, then like a deus ex ma
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Maxwell
Aug 14, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, ireland
I'm a rather big fan of David Mitchell. At this point I've read every one of his novels (minus Ghostwritten), and I enjoy how they loosely connect with one another. This novel is no different, in that there are many Easter eggs throughout. But as a whole it doesn't add anything to his oeuvre that we didn't already know from previous works.

Let's talk plot, because there is very little. At the end of the day, this is the story of the formation of a band, the titular Utopia Avenue. It follows Dean
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Darwin8u
"We're not gods, but we are channels for something that is godlike."
- David Mitchell, Utopia Avenue

description
The irony with David Mitchell is the more explicitly fantasy-fixated his books become (I'm thinking everything after Boneclocks), the less magically real they feel. Mitchell's real talent is structure, bending language, and writing about real things with just the lick of a ghost hovering in the reader's peripheral. When Mitchell shines a light under the bed, the voodoo exists, and the magic disapp
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Ian "Marvin" Graye
CRITIQUE:
[Thanks to Paul Bryant]


Band on the Run

"Well, the rain exploded with a mighty crash
As we fell into the sun,
And the first one said to the second one there
I hope you're having fun...."


[Paul McCartney and Wings - "Band on the Run"]

I'm Just Wild About Harry

David Muggle is my new favourite author, and "Utopia Avenue" is my new favourite book, though it's not my favourite of all time. That would still be "Harry Potter", though it's hard to pick one. I love them all, equally. If you held my hea
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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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“My Dutch grandfather used to say, ‘If you don’t know what to do, do nothing for eight days.’ ” Dean asked, “Why eight?” “Less than eight is haste. More than eight is procrastination. Eight days is long enough for the world to shuffle the deck and deal you another hand.” 6 likes
Art is memory made public. Time wins in the long run. Books turn to dust, negatives decay, records get worn out, civilizations burn. But as long as the art endures, a song or a view or a thought or a feeling someone once thought worth keeping is saved and stays shareable. Others can say, “I feel that too.” 5 likes
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