The ‘Book Brother’ who I adopted at a book sale in an A&R last year recommended this to me, and my only regret in reading this book is that I took too long! Reading it is short spurts meant that I could not do it justice. However, David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten is a very worthwhile work, especially considering it is the author’s first novel. It shows the author’s fascination of consciousness, the minute details of our everyday lives, and the beauty and mystery of the Orient.
Ghostwritten is written in episodes – each chapter told from a new character’s perspectives and at a different time, travelling backwards and forwards in time. Each of them are connected somehow – although the connections vary from the profound to the tokenistic. At times, I felt could have enjoyed the novel even without the connections, particularly the ones I felt less impressed by.
The stories are book-ended by the story of a cult-follower who bombs a Tokyo subway. Quasar is clearly deluded, but still somehow a sympathetic character. Other worthy mentions are the old lady in her tea shack, the radio announcer who gets a caller he didn’t bargain for and the quantum physicist who longs for a peaceful life in her small island, but can’t stop her brain from making calculations that might destroy the world. And destruction of the world seems sadly inevitable, given what you hear from the stories.
I will have to attack this again when I have more time, it is a wonderful book and I feel I somehow owe it an apology.