David Mitchell

Portrait David Mitchell
© Paul Stuart

David Mitchell was born in Southport, Lancaster, in 1969, and grew up in Malvern, Worcestershire. He studied English and American Literature at the University of Kent in Canterbury and graduated with a Master of Arts in Comparative Literature and Linguistics. He spent one year in Catania before he moved to Hiroshima, where he lived with his wife for eight years and taught English at university there, something he had already done in Sicily.

Mitchell’s first novel »Ghostwritten« (1999) met the enthusiastic acclaim of the critics and won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and other awards. Writers like William Boyd and A. S. Byatt were impressed, too, and praised the »Novel in Nine Parts« as one of the best debuts of the recent past. The book reveals Mitchell’s love for complex, multi-perspective narrative structures. The plots are interwoven to an extent that the connections between the nine heroes of the story, who live all over the world, become visible only successively and in a rather subtle way. The literary journey, which begins in Tokyo and ends in New York, is, furthermore, full of literary, philosophical and historical references. His second novel, »Number 9 Dream« (2001) is set in Japan and tells the story of a young man who tries to find his father. Mitchell opts for a first-person narrator in this work, but incorporates many different text types into the overall composition. An example of utmost formal extravaganza is Mitchell’s third and so far most successful book »Cloud Atlas« (2004). It elegantly floats between the literary genres and jumps around on a timeline – from the mid-19th century until an undetermined dystopic future. »Black Swan Green«, an educational novel with an autobiographic bent was Mitchell’s follow-up to the ambitious narrative construct in 2006. »The Thousand Autums of Jacob de Zoet« (2010) is a primly researched historical novel and a love story of a Dutch travelling salesman and a Japanese midwife, set on the Island of Deima in the Nagasaki Bay in the year 1799. »Slade House« (2015) is about a house in London in which a brother and sister steal the souls of visitors in order to become immortal themselves. »Utopia Avenue« (2020) tells the story of the band of the same name, which emerged from the London psychedelic scene in 1967.

In addition to his fiction, Mitchell also wrote the libretto of the opera »Wake«, which opened in the National Opera of the Netherlands in 2010. The »Cloud Atlas« has recently been turned into a film by directors Tom Tykwer and the Wachowski Brothers. Mitchell lives in Clonakilty in Cork County, Ireland.