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Number9Dream Paperback – February 11, 2003

109 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

David Mitchell's second novel, Number9Dream, tells the story of Eiji Miyake, a young man negotiating a hypermodern and dangerous Tokyo to meet for the first time his secretive and powerful father. Naïve and fresh from the Japanese countryside, Eiji encounters every obstacle imaginable in his quest, from his father's--and in-laws'--reluctance for the encounter to occur (Eiji is the bastard son) to fiery entanglements with yakuza (the Japanese mafia) to the overwhelming size and anonymity of Tokyo itself.

The novel is cartoonish in that Eiji has a vivid and violent imagination that fills the book with daydreams. When not chain-smoking, forlorn Eiji wanders the city following vague or cryptic leads that invariably dead-end or land him back among yakuza. Mitchell (author of the critically acclaimed Ghostwritten) has a smart, eclectic writing style that seems foreign, and the novel is well paced, but the yakuza encounters are too cinematic, complete with unusual torture and pyrotechnics. Moreover, in addition to Eiji's daydreams, the last half of the book contains excerpts from the diaries of his great uncle's World War II naval heroics and bizarre short stories that Eiji reads while hiding--the latter of which make for tedious reading.

Number9Dream is crafted from too many disparate components; it does not seem to be a full expression, but an overly crowded one. Readers will sympathize with Eiji and his search, but in the end will wonder what effect, if any, all the extraneous forces had on him. The book provides many fun moments, but ultimately it doesn't really add up to the sum of its parts. --Michael Ferch --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

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 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (February 11, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812966929
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812966923
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (109 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #234,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Mitchell is the award-winning and bestselling author of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Black Swan Green, Cloud Atlas, Number9Dream, and Ghostwritten. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, his newest novel The Bone Clocks has been selected for the 2014 longlist. Mitchell was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time in 2007. With KA Yoshida, Mitchell translated from the Japanese the internationally bestselling memoir The Reason I Jump. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Mark Delaney on May 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
First of all, most of the other reviewers comments are true, even the comments of those who hated the book. Here's the scoop: Number9Dream is brilliant and moving, occasionally violent and shocking, and almost never boring. The scenes involving "Goatwriter" are everything you might imagine from what you have heard. They are puzzling. They are a distraction from the main story. They are also quite funny in their way. Be advised that these scenes do not pop inexplicably out of the ether, as you might assume from the other reviews posted here. The main character, Eiji, is hiding from those who might kill him, and he stumbles upon the text of a story. To bide his time, he reads this story about Goatwriter. It's odd, but it fits. Most importantly, readers who wade through that short section will find they've enjoyed one of the most satisfying novels they've read in a very long time.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Craig D. Phillipson on January 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
DESPITE WHAT YOU MAY HAVE HEARD

I love the condescension of this book's reviewers. Most of them see fit to deem Mitchell's novel as 'ambitious', that he was far too clever for his own good, but not quite clever enough for them. One reader was barely able to compel himself through the first 60 pages, but was still able to deduce that Mitchell's work was in this instance "fundamentally masturbatory" (I have no idea what book this guy was reading).

A FANTASTIC READ

If you want to read an excellent novel, I would hate to have you be dissuaded by numbskulls with a hazy grasp on the definition of the term 'disjointed.' For a novel that "challenges the defintion[sic] of plotting" the narrative thread is marvelously clear. It is, at its core, a book about a boy searching for his father. But more than that, its a book about a boy's life and everything that fits into that life: what he's thinking, where he comes from, what he wants.

I KNOW YOU'LL LIKE IT

I think reviewers who gave this book 3 stars or less had difficulty with the novel because in Number9dream Mitchell deals in the fabric and machinery of human imagination, how it compels us through the mundane, how it propels us through our fears, and how some of us are driven to nurture it, to stoke its fires and, at times, to give ourselves over to its power.

So if you are not willing to surrender, if briefly, to imagination, this is not the novel for you. But otherwise, give it a chance, let yourself go, and for God's sake love this book. I do.
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on October 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In "Ghostwritten" David Mitchell produced a novel that was stylish, engaging, and above all, clever. He created a fascinating portrait of the chance meetings that drive us on to our destinies; a task that in less gifted hands would be burdensome, but that was elegant and light in Mitchell's. Unfortunately, "Number9Dream" doesn't quite live up to the high benchmark he set with his first novel.
The book's primary problem is that Mitchell was far too clever for his own good. As the reader follows the protagonist, Eiji Miyake, on his search for this father, and his place in the world, they are buffeted by numerous asides, dreams, stories, fantasies, etc. Any one of these is extremely well written, but taken as a whole they make for a disjointed reading experience. Their purpose is to explore the interactions Mitchell considered so deftly in "Ghostwritten" but as they pertain to just one individual. However, the end result is a chaotic mishmash that is frequently entertaining, and always well written, but rarely satisfying.
That said, I wouldn't necessarily recommend against reading "Number9Dream", for one thing a sub par effort for David Mitchell is better than 90% of what's on the market today. Moreover, he makes some really interesting points about the nature of society and his ending (which I am sure many found abrupt) is a fascinating point about the fleeting nature of contentment, ambition and desire.
In the end, David Mitchell should be complimented for writing a novel that challenges the definitions of plotting and characterization. While the attempt falls somewhat short, it is still a noteworthy sophomore effort. If you don't mind a novel that makes you work a little, "Number9Dream" is an interesting effort from a young writer who is just hitting his stride.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Hamilton on June 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Is Eiji Miyaki really storming the Pan Opticon skyscraper and breaking into files that finally reveal his father's identity, or is he just daydreaming about it? That is always the question in Number9Dream, David Mitchell's fast-paced new novel which bobs and weaves between its main character's real-life search for identity and his rich fantasy life, between his initiation into a corrupt, money-driven megapolis and his quest for young love. Mitchell, who won considerable acclaim for his first novel Ghostwritten, is sure to garner more attention for this inventive, mysterious book.
By far the most interesting thing about the novel is its Tokyo setting -- rendered as a shimmering urban nightmare, alternately realistic and futuristic. Eiji, a green boy from a remote Japanese island, comes to Tokyo to find the father who abandoned his mother when she became pregnant. Soon, he is adrift in a stew of syndicated crime, private sex clubs and an illegal trade in human organs.
Underneath the surface drama, Number9Dream is also a novel about parents and children. Eiji puts the rest of his life on hold until he can connect with his father. But Ai, the girl he falls in love with, shows him what true strength is. When her parents threaten to disown her if she pursues a musical career in Paris, she chooses the City of Light and lets her mother and father go. Eiji's love for Ai and his own risks and brushes with disaster eventually teach him that not all dreams are worth dying for, and that a young man learns his identity by making his own hard choices, not by trying to recapture a lost past.
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