By David Mitchell
I don’t know what it is with the books I choose…Japan seems to be a big theme. #9 dream was the only David Mitchell I hadn’t read so far. And now that’s done too.
This was Mitchell’s 2nd novel – after the success of his debut novel Ghostwritten, he had huge expectations to fulfill. I loved the book. Better than his first, in fact. His cleverly constructed multiple narrative style in the first book gives way to a single story – that of Eiji Miyake and his Tokyo sojourn. Yet, he does manage to slot in different narratives even in this single story. A World War II diary of a kaizen pilot, Miyake’s sometimes Matrix-like dream sequences and a book of off-beat short stories Miyake comes across in a safe haven. There is a touch of Murakami in here (even the title is a Lennon song…Murakami’s Beatles mania at work?) and I will not be surprised if Mitchell admits to some influence here.
The lead character is Eiji Miyake, a 20 year old from an outlying Japanese village who comes to Tokyo in search of his father who he has never seen. His mother, who he despises, was his father’s mistress. Abandoned by his father when she bears him twins (Eiji and his twin sister Anju), she leaves her kids with her mother, takes to drink and becomes mentally unstable. The book is about Miyake’s discovery of Tokyo, the Japanese mafia, new friends and loves. And a re-discovery of who and what truly matters in life – not his disappointing father who never cared, but his mother who is too afraid to care, the memory of his dead twin and a new found love. It is Miyake’s journey into adulthood, into reconciliation with pain and disappointment.
Mitchell writes beautifully. His clever way with words and narratives can be quite intoxicating. He is currently my favourite writer and my newfound mission is to introduce him and his books to friends. A David Mitchell fan club is in order.