DAVID MITCHELL, the author of Cloud Atlas (2004) and twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction, is back with his fourth novel, Black Swan Green (Random House, 2006), a far but interesting departure from his first three challenging and complex novels; this time the “doyen of dazzling postmodern pyrotechnics” gives us a conventional coming-of-age story of 13 months in the life of a precocious, speech-impaired (“When a stammerer stammers their eyeballs pop out, they go trembly-red like an evenly matched arm wrestler and their mouth guppergupperguppers like a fish in a net. It must be quite a funny sight. It wasn’t funny for me, though.”) 12-going-on-13-year-old English boy in provincial England (Worcestershire) in the early 1980s. A quiet, simple and ordinary story told in a charming, extraordinary way. His use of dialogue is irrefragably excellent for the revelation of characters and his command of the idioms of British teenspeak in the 1980s permits him to effectuate a fine naturalness. Compared to his previous novels, Black Swan Green is an accessible and satisfying piece of fiction.
However, I think that Mitchell’s backlist deserves better covers.
MITCHELL David [1969-] Novelist. Born in Southport, Merseyside, Lancashire, England. NOVELS Black Swan Green (2006); Cloud Atlas (2004: winner of the 2005 British Book Award for Literary Fiction; shortlisted for the 2004 Booker Prize for Fiction, the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction and the 2005 Commonwealth Writers Prize for Best Book, Eurasia Region); number9dream (2001: shortlisted for the 2001 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for Fiction and the 2002 Booker Prize for Fiction); Ghostwritten (1999: winner of the 1999 Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize; shortlisted for the 1999 Guardian First Book Award)
Black Swan Green (2006)
Cloud Atlas (2004)