Ghostwritten – David Mitchell

Ghostwritten is David Mitchell’s first novel, paving the way for his future stories. Several of which I am already familiar with, the rest of which are on my TBR list at some point. I fell in love with his writing style in Cloud Atlas and this book follows in a similar format. How is a youth with a passion for jazz music living in Tokyo linked to an Englishman slaving away for the man in Hong Kong? What ties a femme fatale museum worker in Petersburg involved in art theft to a promiscuous ghostwriter by day/musician by night? Mitchell weaves his story across the world in his unique and mysterious way, never fully revealing anything. Leaving the reader to use their imagination. The book is told in ten parts, one for each of the interwoven characters. Each telling their part of the story.


I really enjoyed the format that Mitchell also used in Cloud Atlas, reading about these very distinct lives of each character. Some you loved, some you pitied and some you just could not understand. A unique perspective I enjoyed possibly most of all was the beginning chapter. A young Japanese man who has just carried out a terrorist attack as part of a cult. reading his perspective and the way his brain justified his attack on the “unclean” was so different to anything I had read before. I found it fascinating, even more so after reading that this was based on an actual terrorist attack in Tokyo back in 1995. Satire, the young Japanese jazz enthusiast, Margarita Latunsky the Russian museum worker and the stretch of time in Mongolia were all favourites of mine, although each character had their own charms.


As in the David Mitchell way we see crossover from characters in his other novels. Timothy Cavendish, book publisher in London with a penchant for getting himself into trouble, pops up in one chapter. He was a cheeky favourite of mine in Cloud Atlas so I enjoyed meeting his again, albeit briefly. You can tell his is one of his earlier works but Ghostwritten still has his unique charm that sucks me in to his worlds. All I want to do now is go and reacquaint myself with Cloud Atlas whilst simultaneously reading all his other pieces of work (all of which I do plan to acquire and read at some point). I love the way his stories leave me pondering his words long after I have finished them. The last chapter of Ghostwritten is the clincher with questions and situations posed that will get you thinking and I found myself racing to finish the story.


Overall, this is another classic by David Mitchell that I loved. While not my absolute favourite I loved seeing where it all began. I’m already looking forward to moving on to the next one. I do recommend if you enjoy a different book that gets you thinking, while transporting you to a world of different places with an interesting mix of characters. I give Ghostwritten three radios broadcasting from Night Train FM, get on board.


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