Tuesday, April 11, 2006


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)


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