Cloud Atlas is his best IMHO. David Mitchell just nails it. Its intelligent, moving, shocking and stays with you for a long time afterwards. It is epic in scale covering many characters, centuries and continents. So don't be put off when you start of reading about a naval voyage a couple of hundred years ago, you will soon be in Europe, then America in the 1970s, then in the future. I cant recommend this book highly enough.
His early books are Ghost Written and No 9 Dream. Then a complete departure from Mitchell's usual style is Black Swan Green. This is a semi autobiographical book about a sensitive, poetic boy with a stammer growing up in a tough blue collar town. The focus is much smaller than his other novels but its just as good. No giant canvas here. I read one review that said Black Swan Green is like finding out Jackson Pollock can paint a tiny perfect miniature of his mother.
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob Da Zoet is about a tiny Dutch trading post in the last days of the Japanese - it then grows and grows and covers a noble Samuri and a sinister monastery where the monks live a suspiciously long time and babies disappear. It was made into a movie which I haven't seen starring Anthony Hopkins. A very good review of it is here: http://www.greatbooksguide.com/thousandautumnsjacobdezoet.html
I just finished the Bone Clocks 2 weeks ago. I absolutely loved it. It is almost though not quite as good as Cloud Atlas.
Both books feature:
- 6 stories
- ... all of which are first-person accounts
- ... spanning decades
- ... starting in the past (1984) and extending far in the future (2043)
- ... and ending on a roll rather than winding down, as if they were cut prematurely
The themes are similar, too:
- Man's selfishness & cruelty, especially towards each other
- The yearning for safeguarding our knowledge/self/experiences for posterity
- Growing old
- Dystopian future
The Bone Clocks seems to be asking "How far is it OK to go in the fight for survival?" - Is it OK to kill someone else to live longer? And if you are horrified by that, is it really different than our generation causing certain death and misery to future generations by selfishly and recklessly exploiting the world's resources?
If you haven't yet discovered this author, I am jealous of the treat you have in store for yourself.