David Mitchell (author)

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David Mitchell (born 1969-01-12) is an award-winning British writer of postmodernist novels. He has lived for many years in Japan, and has set much of his fiction in the Far East.


  • Ghostwritten’s secret agenda is to offer up eight different answers to the question, "Why do things happen?" so it has the right to monkey about with time and history. number9dreams’s secret agenda is to offer eight different answers to the question, "In what space does the mind operate?"
  • What do I miss? Second-hand bookshops where I can find things I had no idea I wanted. AbeBooks helps, but it doesn't have that smell.

Ghostwritten (1999)

  • I have always preferred maps to books. They don't answer you back.
    • "Okinawa"
  • The most malicious god is the god of the counted chicken.
    • "Clear Island"
  • Lunatics are writers whose works write them.
    • "Night Train"

number9dream (2001)

  • Whoever dies with the most stuff wins.
    • Part 5
  • The body is the outermost layer of the mind.
    • Part 6
  • Courage is the highest quality for a soldier, but technology is a fine substitute.
    • Part 6

Cloud Atlas (2004)

Page-numbers refer to the 2004 Sceptre edition.

  • Under the Enrichment Laws, consumers have to spend a fixed quota of dollars each month, depending on their strata. Hoarding is an anti-corpocratic crime.
    • "An Orison of Somni~451", p. 237.
  • Yay, Old’uns’ Smart mastered sicks, miles, seeds an' made miracles ord’nary, but it din’t master one thing, nay, a hunger in the hearts o' humans, yay, a hunger for more.
    • "Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After", p. 286.
  • Human hunger birthed the Civlize, but human hunger killed it too.
    • "Sloosha's Crossin' an' Ev'rythin' After", p. 286.
  • Another war is always coming, Robert. They are never properly extinguished. What sparks war? The will to power, the backbone of human nature. The threat of violence, the fear of violence, or actual violence, is the instrument of this dreadful will… The nation state is merely human nature inflated to monstrous proportions. QED, nations are entities whose laws are written by violence. Thus it ever was, so ever shall it be.
    • "Letters from Zedelghem", p. 462.
  • Diplomacy… mops up war’s spillages; legitimizes its outcomes; gives the strong state the means to impose its will on a weaker one, while saving its fleets and battalions for weightier opponents.
    • "Letters from Zedelghem", p. 462.
  • Science devises ever bloodier means of war until humanity’s powers of destruction overcome our powers of creation and our civilisation drives itself to extinction.
    • "Letters from Zedelghem", p. 462.
  • History admits no rules, only outcomes. What precipitates outcomes? Vicious acts & virtuous acts. What precipitates acts? Belief.
    • "The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing", p. 528.
  • One fine day, a purely predatory world shall consume itself… In an individual, selfishness uglifies the soul; for the human species, selfishness is extinction.
    • "The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing", p. 528.
  • If we believe that humanity may transcend tooth & claw, if we believe divers races & creeds can share this world as peaceably as the orphans share their candlenut tree, if we believe leaders must be just, violence muzzled, power accountable & the riches of the Earth & its Oceans shared equitably, such a world will come to pass.
    • "The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing", p. 528.
  • I hear my father-in-law's response..."Naïve, dreaming Adam. He who would do battle with the many-headed hydra of human nature must pay a world of pain & his family must pay it along with him! & only as you gasp your dying breath shall you understand, your life amounted to no more than one drop in a limitless ocean!" Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?
    • "The Pacific Journal of Adam Ewing", pp. 528-9.
  • Books don't offer real escape but they can stop a mind scratching itself raw.
    • "Letters from Zedelghem"

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