This coming August marks 10 years since David Mitchell’s groundbreaking novel, Cloud Atlas, was published to great acclaim. A global phenomenon, the novel has since sold more than 750,000 copies, was a Man Booker prize finalist, and made into a major motion picture released in October 2012 starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry.
At end of summer, Random House will publish The Bone Clocks, Mitchell’s first novel in four years, and according to his publisher, his most “Cloud Atlas-y.” Mitchell tells Show Daily@BookCon why: “Both The Bone Clocks and Cloud Atlas travel about a lot in time and space, and both novels contain a number of worlds—six, to be exact—whose fictional residents do interact, but which are largely self-contained. Both books are also tricky to put a genre label on, compared to the two novels that I wrote between them.”
The new novel required a great deal of research, with Mitchell having to learn a lot about Swiss ski resorts of the 1980s, since he’s never skied. He also delved into the world of valuable stamps, the modus operandi of holiday-resort fortune-tellers, the heresy of the Cathars, life at an upstate New York liberal arts college, the Noongar Aborigines of western Australia, and climate change.
This is Mitchell’s first novel in which some scenes are set in the U.S. “I’ve always wanted to write a nightmarish car chase in heavy, hardly moving traffic, and Fifth Avenue up by the Frick Collection fit the bill.”
In August 2013, Mitchell co-translated and published The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism, which spent eight weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Of its success, Mitchell, the father of an autistic son, says, “I’m more vicariously proud than I am surprised, and hope infused. We hoped a few thousand copies might be printed, and reach the parents and caregivers of kids with autism, and that would be it. But thanks to a fervent endorsement from Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, the book is informing the whole narrative of autism. We can’t fix autism—it’s not a disease, so there’s no cure—but we can cure the widespread public ignorance about autism, which makes living with autism so much harder than it needs to be. I love my job as a novelist, but in the big scheme of things, my role in The Reason I Jump matters more. The novel is my home, but autism is my cause.”
This will be Mitchell’s first time attending BEA, and he’s imagining “Frankfurt Book Fair on a more human scale, with something to eat and a dash of American ComicCon-type pizzazz.”
Today Mitchell is in conversation with his editor, David Ebershoff, at noon in Room 1E15.