David Mitchell (author)

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History admits no rules; only outcomes.

David Mitchell (born 12 January 1969) is an award-winning British writer of postmodernist novels. He has lived for many years in Japan, and has set much of his fiction in the Far East.

See also:
Cloud Atlas


As long as you can Houdini your way out of the Sisyphean constraints then originality happens.
  • What is this thing, "imagination?" A muscle that can be "forced" or "stretched"? Or something immune to the ethos of ganbaru [grit it out, or strive for one's best]? Like the relativist's view of light, it is both wave and particle, depending on what you want it to be. The verb "to imagine" is both active and passive, as in "Steve imagined his future," and "Such a future was never imagined." So, I work on my novel by imagining the world of 18th-century Nagasaki and its people and their fears and desires, as an act of will, and a lot of will is involved, believe me. However, I could ganbaru until I'm blue in the face. If my imagination doesn't work "passively" or even "intransitively," at its own behest rather than mine, and come up with cliche-demolishing twists of phrase and turns of plot and happy accidents and unexpected reactions from characters, then the book will be sterile. Well-written with luck, and even intelligent, but sterile. (...) Imagination is what makes art fertile.
  • Right now I’m working on a book set in the thirty years on either side of 2010, but I shouldn’t give too many details or the next thing you know it’s on Wikipedia and if I change my mind and decide to recast King Lear in a pond of frogs and toads I’ll just give a hardworking Wikipedian an extra headache.
  • Perhaps the best answer is that the writer that I am has been shaped by the stammering kid that I was, and that although my stammer didn’t make me write, it did, in part, inform and influence the writer I became. It’s true that stammerers can become more adept at sentence construction. Synonyms aren’t always neatly interchangeable. Sometimes choosing word B over word A requires you to construct a different sentence to house it—and quickly, too, before your listener smells the stammering rat.
    • Paris Review

Ghostwritten (1999)

  • I have always preferred maps to books. They don't answer you back.
    • "Okinawa"
  • The most malicious god is the god of the counted chicken.
    • "Clear Island"
  • Lunatics are writers whose works write them.
    • "Night Train"

number9dream (2001)

  • Whoever dies with the most stuff wins.
    • Part 5
  • The body is the outermost layer of the mind.
    • Part 6
  • Courage is the highest quality for a soldier, but technology is a fine substitute.
    • Part 6
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