A young Japanese man's quest to find his estranged parents throws him into a bizarre world of mobsters, dream villains and cyber-tricksters in Mitchell's second novel (after Ghostwritten), a hyperactive, erratic sprawl of a book that begins when narrator Eiji Miyake finds himself out on his own after his twin sister, Anju, dies: his alcoholic mother had had a nervous breakdown and left her two children with their grandmother when they were very young, and they have never met their father. Miyake makes the move from rural Japan to Tokyo to stake out the company where his father is a powerful executive. But his search lands him in a nebulous yet dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with an equally powerful Japanese mobster who uses Miyake's need to find his parents to kidnap and threaten him in a series of malevolent and nearly inexplicable scenes. The most coherent sequence in the narrative takes place when Miyake is contacted by his grandfather, a former seaman who gives Miyake his diary, a poignant account of his stint on a submarine in the final days of WWII, as the Japanese frantically scrambled to deploy a new undersea warhead. Miyake eventually manages to meet his parents, but those potentially affecting scenes are overwhelmed and overshadowed by Mitchell's relentless tendency to spin out futuristic, over-the-top scenarios in which Miyake is whisked away into strange settings and then abused as if he were the hero in a deadly video game. Mitchell showed considerable promise in his highly acclaimed debut, but his sophomore effort is so chaotic that it will test even the most diligent and devoted reader. (Feb. 26) Forecast: Rave reviews from the British press, a Booker Prize nomination and a five-city author tour will give this challenging novel a needed boost. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Eiji Miyake is a young man with a mission—to find the rich, powerful father who deserted his family years ago, and now lives and works in Tokyo. It isn't that Eiji wants his father's money, but rather he wants to meet him, perhaps to renew bonds or at least to hear his father send him away. Eiji becomes obsessed with the search. He is also obsessed by a feeling of responsibility for the death of his twin sister, Anju, who died nine years ago in a swimming accident. Until these two matters are resolved, Eiji's life cannot move forward. In Tokyo, however, Eiji becomes unwittingly involved with the ruthless Japanese mafia that threatens his life; with Ai Imajo, a gifted young pianist who is trying to assert herself against her parents' traditional plan for her life; and with his grandfather, who entrusts to him the diary of a WW II kamikaze pilot, Eiji's own great uncle. Interspersed throughout the story are dream sequences, which reflect Eiji's unconscious thoughts and fears, and mimic surreal scenes from popular video games. It is sometimes difficult, in fact, to assess where the reality begins and ends. Eiji, a guitarist, finds "music touching his soul," as it did for John Lennon, whose hit song, "#9 Dream," provides the book's title. An absorbing coming-of-age tale, this Booker Prize finalist will be appreciated by adult readers and some teens willing to invest time and effort in unraveling the rich complexities of the novel's language and imagery. KLIATT Codes: SA—Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2001, Random House, 400p., Allison
Hiroshima resident Mitchell's startling and original debut, Ghostwritten, took place all over the globe. But his second work lands firmly in Japan, where a young boy looks for the father who denies his existence. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
A wildly inventive set of variations on an abandoned young Japanese man's Sisyphean search for his father under the aegis of John Lennon and the mystical number nine. Eiji Miyake's quest starts off with a bang as he proceeds from the Jupiter Cafe to the behemoth PanOpticon building, disguised as an aquarium serviceman, to extract at gunpoint his father's address from his attorney, who turns out to be a bioborg replicant. Or he phones her in a halfhearted attempt to make an appointment. Or he follows her to a cinema where she's meeting his father. Or-in a scenario that seems just as real as the others-he attempts to bluff his way into the building. This hall of mirrors opens into a roistering, episodic tale that moves back and forth between Eiji's childhood-where, spurned by the minister who supported his illegitimate twins financially but refused to see them or their mother, Eiji unwittingly sacrificed his sister Anju to the thunder god-and his increasingly baroque plans to track down his father in a postmodern Tokyo where waking and dreaming, people and computers are virtually indistinguishable. His feckless schemes immerse him in an acquaintance's hard-nosed plot to get revenge on the girlfriend who stood him up, as well as a Yakuza war over the market for illegally harvested human organs, and project his search onto his grandfather's testing of a desperate WWII anti-American weapon and an alter ego who clamors for the audience his animal fable offers. All the while, apparently minor characters-a computer nerd at the lost-property office, a female private eye, a Jupiter Cafe waitress with a perfect neck-gradually assume an importance of truly paranoiac dimensions. Booker nomineeMitchell (Ghostwritten, 2000) offers fans of Kafka, Pynchon, and DeLillo state-of-the-art dreams of a Tokyo landscape that could have come straight out of a video game. A demented, maddeningly playful, important book. Author tour
“A novel as accomplished as anything being written.”—Newsweek
“Delirious—a grand blur of overwhelming sensation.”—Entertainment Weekly
“To call Mitchell’s book a simple quest novel . . is like calling Don DeLillo’s Underworld the story of a missing baseball.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Number9Dream, with its propulsive energy, its Joycean eruption of language and playfulness, represents further confirmation that David Mitchell should be counted among the top young novelists working today.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Mitchell’s new novel has been described as a cross between Don DeLillo and William Gibson, and although that’s a perfectly serviceable cocktail-party formula, it doesn’t do justice to this odd, fitfully compelling work.”—The New Yorker
“Leaping with ease from surrealist fables to a teenage coming-of-age story and then spinning back to Yakuza gangster battles and World War II–era kamikaze diaries, Mitchell is an aerial freestyle ski-jumper of fiction. Somehow, after performing feats of literary gymnastics, he manages to stick the landing.”—The Seattle Post-Intelligencer