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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Like the nearly invisible thread that binds the pages of a book together, David Mitchell's extraordinarily inventive debut tethers the lives of nine strangers to each other with common ideology, characters, and names. The distance between these strangers is not metaphorical-Mitchell takes readers to nine disparate countries: from Okinawa to Mongolia, from Russia to London, and beyond. He begins with Quasar, a follower of a bizarre doomsday cult, who has just completed a mission to release poisonous nerve gas in the Tokyo subway. Fleeing to the island of Okinawa, Quasar is forced to run still further to deflect suspicion, and must listen quietly from his place of exile as he hears the sorry fate of his fellow cult members. The next tale introduces a teenage jazz aficionado on the cusp of adulthood, working in a Tokyo record shop and falling in love with a young girl from Hong Kong. The third chapter tells of a British businessman living in Hong Kong, fed up with his bourgeois life, who spies the lovebirds featured in the previous tale seated in a fast-food outlet. Each of the six following stories continues in like fashion, effortlessly conveying similar attitudes of disaffection and xenophobia, each of the protagonists facing a turning point in their lives.
Mitchell's prose is lean and economical, but certainly not devoid of emotion. A keen observer of people and place, Mitchell's debut is an impressive one.