Magazine article Management Today

Books: Top Holiday Read

Magazine article Management Today

Books: Top Holiday Read

Article excerpt

Cloud Atlas

Sceptre, 2004

Will Self recently gave a characteristically lugubrious lecture. Literary fiction, he said, used to be central to the culture. In the digital age, not only is the physical book in decline, but the idea of 'difficult' reading is being challenged, he said. Nobody can focus for long when there are cheap oven gloves to be bought on Amazon. He now writes on an old typewriter, so he's not tempted to web-surf. The future of serious fiction, he concluded, is as a specialised interest.

I hope this isn't true. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell is the most enthralling novel I've read in the past decade, and I commend it for beach-time reading. It is a virtuoso piece, whisking the reader through seemingly unrelated tales set on a Pacific island in 1850 and in 1930s Belgium and 1970s California and a grim post-apocalyptic future. The writing is stunning. Mitchell is a wonderful mimic, pasticheur, prose stylist, storyteller and ironist. The book is funny, deeply humane and full of cliffhangers that make you see the themes that draw the tales together. …

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