"Ghostwritten" is quite possibly the best debut novel I have ever read. I know that Dato, Fran and myself have been raving about Mitchell's writing lately but imho our comments are justified.
Once again similar in style to "Cloud Atlas", "Ghostwritten" is a collection of narratives which are linked in different but ingenious ways. Nine different characters, all from different walks of life, inhabit the book and their stories all interact. Also their stories all take place in nine different locations all around the globe. They also take place at different times, but the reader is never given an actual time and is left to guess.
We have a terrorist from Okinawa, a clerk from a record shop in Tokyo, a corrupt British lawyer in Hong Kong, an elderly woman running a tea shop in China, a transmigrating parasitic spirit, jumping from host to host in Mongolia(my favourite), an art thief in Petersburg, a musician from London, a physicist who has invented a devestating weapon in Ireland(whoohoo Fran), and a dusk till dawn radio dj in New York.
I found the main theme of the book to be conflictions between chance and fate. Many of the links between the narratives seem at first to be coincidental or acts of chance. However as you start reading more of the book you start to ask yourself if they are really acts of fate instead. Was it fate that led event A to cause event B or was it just complete coincidence. After reading the novel as a whole, events seem to have happened for a reason but conclusions are really left up to the reader.
I love how Mitchell pays homage to Asimov in the second last narrative with(what I assume to be) a sentient computer or program that is governed by a set of laws, trying to run the world. He also mentions swans alot but I think I will need DATo or Fran to figure out what he is on about there
Readers who have read "Cloud Atlas" will immediately recognise some favourite characters. However seeing as though "Ghostwritten" was written first if you have not read either I would really recommend that you read "Ghostwritten" first. I flipped between both novels trying not to miss anyone
One of the things I love about Mitchell's writing is his obvious love of metaphors and similies. The beautiful metaphorical writing of "Cloud Atlas" and "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet" is no where as abundant in this novel, but hey it is his debut, and still smartly done. I also missed the humour that was found in "Cloud Atlas".
Once again "Ghostwritten" is a novel which almost demands multiple readings. There are so many things that you can easily miss and I would not recommend reading it before going to bed. You will want to be bright and alert while reading this book.
If you are not having fun......then what is the point.