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Wednesday, 19 September, 2001, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
David Mitchell: Dream weaver
David Mitchell
David Mitchell: Compared to Kerouac and Gibson
David Mitchell's Booker nomination has propelled him into the ranks of the literary elite with just his second novel, number9dream.

The writer is hardly a household name; indeed, one biography of the Lancashire-born novelist gives scant detail.

Number9dream takes its title from a Lennon song
It reads: "David Mitchell lives and teaches in Hiroshima, Japan. He is currently working on his second novel. He is thirty-one years old."

But the writer is already an award-winner who has received strong reviews for both books. His debut novel, Ghostwritten, earned him the Mail on Sunday/John Llewelyn Rhys Prize.

A collection of inter-locking stories infused with musical and literary references, Ghostwritten takes the reader on a journey from the East to the West and was also shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award.

Dynamic landscape

His new novel number9dream tells the story of 20-year-old Eiji Miyake's search for the father.

Located in the dynamic landscape of modern day Tokyo, it travels through Japan with a series of almost surreal encounters, including the god of thunder and John Lennon, whose song lends its title to the book.

Like Ghostwritten before it, it is a novel broken down into surreal sections, beginning with multiple openings, and ending with a missing dream.

There are many layers of connections between the sections and characters from his debut novel even manage to make an appearance in this book.

Reality, in its many different forms, is a common theme with Mitchell, who studied literature at the University of Kent and did an MA in Comparative Literature.

Narrative sense

His work has been compared to the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami - both authors have titled books after Lennon songs and both examine contemporary culture through the lens of perhaps the most contemporary of all cultures in Japan.

His work is also compared to the writings of William Gibson and Jack Kerouac, who similarly had powerful narrative sense but often lacked structure.

In interviews he has said "the trick to writing a compelling narrative is so simple it's often overlooked: invent a character the reader likes and make nasty or dangerous things happen to him or her."

The trick to writing maybe overlooked but Mitchell certainly is not.

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