My Contemporary Fiction Challenge 4#: David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas

With phenomenal skill David Mitchell navigates a fictitious world that jumps centuries and continents within six narratives that intertwine to form a perplexing insight into human nature. A bloody good read!

The novel shows the Nietzschean idea of recurrence, whereby time is not linear but cyclical and events that have occurred once are destined to reoccur infinitively.  This idea is suggested by the characters’ shared comet-shaped birthmark, and the way the novel acts as a mirror, visiting each narrative once and then begins the cycle again but in reverse. Each character can therefore be seen as a reincarnation of the same soul in a different time and space. This motif of inevitability seems to link to the dystopian elements that tie the novellas together to form Cloud Atlas– a text that suggests our world will always be governed by human nature and the greed and power inherent in all humans.

Cloud Atlas is morality fiction, showing through various different depictions of the same soul in different times and places amidst violence and oppression, be it in nineteenth century barbaric colonialism Adam Ewing witnesses or the subordination of Sonmi-451 in a totalitarian future where clones are used as brain-dead slaves.  a warning against real barbarity and immorality through fictional representations of how forms of violence and oppression are inevitable in every era and every continent. If we, like David Mitchell’s characters, are merely puppets being given predestined roles our prospects appear bleak; we are condemned to repeat violent acts against each other forever…….

      I’m honestly going to review a happy book soon, I am not normally this morbid honest- too much Dexter and American Horror Story. I read this book on my travels so unfortunately this review is less detailed than my other reviews. 


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