David Mitchell is a British novelist. To date, he’s written seven novels, two of which have been short-listed for the Booker Prize.
His first novel, Ghostwritten, was published in 1999 to critical acclaim. It follows the lives of nine characters whose lives are intertwined in ways big and small, obvious and subtle. Many fans consider Ghostwritten a sort of proto Cloud Atlas, with the latter novel borrowing elements of Ghostwritten’s structure and stylistic elements, pairing them with a sprawling narrative that spans centuries.
Mitchell followed his debut with the exceptional number9dream, which details the exploits of 19-year-old Eiji Miyake, an orphan who sets out to find his biological father in Tokyo. The novel alternates between reality and fantasy, with vivid, dreamlike segments blending objective reality and reality as seen from the perspective of the unreliable narrator. Mitchell has often praised Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami as a major influence on his work, and number9dream may be his most Murakami-esque novel.
In 2004, Mitchell published Cloud Atlas, an epic that spans almost as many emotions as it does years. Like Ghostwritten, Cloud Atlas’ chapters are divided up between several narrators, each with a unique voice, and each connecting with the others in surprising ways. Cloud Atlas is probably Mitchell’s best-known novel, thanks to near-universal critical praise and a movie adaptation by the Wachowskis, starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry.
Mitchell followed up his masterpiece with the semi-autobiographical Black Swan Green, perhaps the most conventional of his novels (if any of them can be called conventional), and 2010’s The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. The former is set in a fictional U.K. town, while the latter marks Mitchell’s imaginative return to Japan. Most of the novel’s action takes place on the man-made island Dejima, a trading post of the Dutch East India Company and for many years the only way foreigners were permitted to glimpse the reclusive Japanese nation. Thousand Autumns is also significant for the first appearance of Marinus, a character who has become incredibly important to the author’s larger meta-text.
Marinus plays a central role in 2014’s The Bone Clocks, which introduces readers to the war between “atemporals” — characters who are either naturally gifted with immortality, or who achieve it by sacrificing the souls of innocents.
That war carries over to Mitchell’s latest novel, Slade House, which looks like a haunted house mystery until the narrative reveals much more going on beneath the surface. Slade House is the shortest of Mitchell’s novels, and started out as a short story Mitchell released via Twitter, in 140-character snippets during promotion efforts for The Bone Clocks. Appropriately, it was released just before Halloween in 2015, and is among Mitchell’s most well-reviewed books.