‘Cloud Atlas’ by David Mitchell

“It’s a sandwich book!”

This I exclaimed to whoever asked me how my reading of ‘Cloud Atlas’ was going. Indeed, they never quite understood what I meant to say.

Let me just try to explain. You know how a sandwich works, picture the layers:

bread – mayo – lettuce – cheese – ham – cheese – lettuce – mayo – bread.

Well, Mitchell’s book worked pretty much the same:

Ewing – Frobisher- Rey – Cavendish – Sonmi – Zach’ry – Sonmi – Cavendish – Rey – Frobisher – Ewing.

You see? It’s a sandwich book!

Or, in a more poetic way – possibly the way David intended it – it’s a metaphor for the way souls travel and cross each other’s paths, just like clouds floating in the sky.

So that Zach’ry watches Sonmi’s Orizon. Sonmi watches a film about Tim Cavendish. Cavendish reads a novel about Luisa Rey. Rey reads the letters written by Robert Frobisher. Frobisher finds the diary of Adam Ewing.

They are all separated by generations and miles of ocean and land. Yet, their sould are connected, through something as small as a birthmark, as big as the universe. A comet that crosses time, starting on a ship sailing the Pacific Ocean in the Nineteenth Century, on to a young and pennyless composer in Bruges living between the two World Wars, then to a young American journalists of the 70s, then to an old Londoner publisher of our own time (2000, if there were any doubt), then a clone servant of a distant Korean future – who’s working for Papa Song diners… –  and finally to a goat keeper in a far far future, where modern civilization has long fallen and gone.

These are the six stories – one long story – that David tells us in ‘Cloud Atlas’.

If I’m allowed to drag the film into this post, I would recommend watching it, right after reading the book. The Wachowski brothers have created the greatest work of art on David’s idea.

 

If you want to know more about this book, you can check the Goodreads page.

If you want to know more about the Wachowski’s adaptation, you can check the Imdb page, instead.

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