January 24, 2015

Review: number9dream by David Mitchell

Title: Number9Dream

Author: David Mitchell

Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks

Date of Publication: February 11th 2003

Number of Pages: 401


In outwardform, number9dream is a Dickensian coming-of-age journey: Young dreamer Eiji Miyake, from remote rural Japan, thrust out on his own by his sister's death and his mother's breakdown, comes to Tokyo in pursuit of the father who abandoned him. Stumbling around this strange, awesome city, he trips over and crosses -through a hidden destiny or just monstrously bad luck- a number of its secret power centers. Suddenly, the riddle of his father's identity becomes just one of the increasingly urgent questions Eiji must answer. Why is the line between the worls of his experiences and the worlds of his dreams so blurry? Why do so many horrible things keep happening to him? What is it about the number 9? To answer these questions, and ultimately to come to terms with his inheritance, Eiji must somehow acquire an insight into the workings of history and fate that would be rare in anyone, much less in a boy from out of town with a price on his head and less than the cost of a Beatles disc to his name.


So many stars. What are they for? 

What is a dream and what is reality? How many possibilities exist and how many of them unfold before us? How much does it cost to let go of your ghosts? number9dream explores all those questions and leaves the reader ready to experience life as a result of those endless possibilities. And the feeling is present from the very first chapter. 

Young Eiji Miyake moves to Tokyo in order to search for his father, which is a challenging quest since he doesn't even know his name. But all these weeks that the book follows his life we become witnesses to a vast change in his feelings, his thoughts, his memories, his being. At the end of the story Eiji is no longer a youth, but an adult who knows his origins, who tries to understand his mother and finally let go his idealised notion of his father and the tragic death of his twin sister. 

So long ago,
Was it in a dream?
Was it jast a dream?
I know, yes I know,
It seemed so very real,
Seemed real to me.
Took a walk down the street,
Through the heat whispered trees.
I thought I could hear.
Somebody call out my name
as it started to rain.
Two spirits dancing so strange...

I will not try to explain this book, do not be fooled, this is not one of those where everthing in the end is crystal clear. Each reader has to find its little twists and turns, to travel along Eiji and maybe learn something about himself. As Eiji at some point understands everybody has his dark secrets and we should learn to accept them in others and let the past rest within us. 

Similarly to Ghostwritten the structure of number9dream is unique, although in this book we deal with only one narrator. Each chapter has a very distinct theme, which influences the writing style accordingly. Possibilities, memories, video games, tales, card games, and even kaiten appear one after another and let us have a glimpse in Eiji's past and present. 

So, my advice is...

A jewel for your library!

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