Ghostwritten by David Mitchell

Summary from Goodreads:

David Mitchell's electrifying debut novel takes readers on a mesmerizing trek across a world of human experience through a series of ingeniously linked narratives.

Oblivious to the bizarre ways in which their lives intersect, nine characters-a terrorist in Okinawa, a record-shop clerk in Tokyo, a money-laundering British financier in Hong Kong, an old woman running a tea shack in China, a transmigrating "noncorpum" entity seeking a human host in Mongolia, a gallery-attendant-cum-art-thief in Petersburg, a drummer in London, a female physicist in Ireland, and a radio deejay in New York-hurtle toward a shared destiny of astonishing impact. Like the book's one non-human narrator, Mitchell latches onto his host characters and invades their lives with parasitic precision, making Ghostwritten a sprawling and brilliant literary relief map of the modern world.

Ghostwritten moves along the lines of his more popular work, Cloud Atlas, where we have a couple (nine in Ghostwritten) of seemingly independent stories, that somehow manages to merge and form one unconventional piece of fiction. And while it is not as grand and sprawling as Cloud Atlas, it is just as engaging and enthralling.

I am beginning to think that most, if not all, of David Mitchell novels requires to be chewed like cud. Slowly and lip-smackingly. It's because Mitchell's ideas are so bold and big and knotty. There's quantum physics, transmigration, fate vs chance, etc. He touches on family and heritage and history and memories and religion. Then he goes and flits from one corner of the globe to another and another and another. And then he goes and narrates each of these stories in different voices with different tones and styles, in such an impeccable and convincing manner with amazing prose. The range of this man is just mind boggling. Okay, I think I am repeating myself, from my Cloud Atlas review.

So why is the book called "Ghostwritten"?

“We all think we're in control of our own lives, but really they're pre-ghostwritten by forces around us.” (Tim Cavendish, London)

Does this mean that we relinquish control of our lives to uncontrollable forces? Say to Chance and Fate?

“If you’re in your life, chance. Viewed from the outside, like a book you’re reading, it’s fate all the way.” (Marco, London)

Okay, (indulge me as I deconstruct Mitchell's bonkers, genius mind XD) so I realized that it's perspective. Sure we have laws, we discuss cause and effect, we say it was faith, we say it was chance, but really it depends on perspective. How we see things, where we are respective of the uncontrollable forces/events.

In Mongolia, non corpa jumps from one person's perspective to another. In Night Train, Zookeeper is the eye in the sky with a bird's eye view of the world. In London, Marco talks about turning your head and seeing it in the darkness of a cleaning cupboard.

Am I making sense? Of course not.

I am nowhere near deciphering Mitchell's intricate ideas in Ghostwritten ,and as usual I relegate myself as an awe-struck spectator to his inventiveness and beautiful writing. 


  1. May I suggest number9dream for your next mind-boggling Mitchell read? I mean whenever that is, haha. Mongolia is my favorite chapter because of the non-corporeal being that was the narrator. Amazing, right? ;)

    1. Monique, we are one step ahead of you! See Lynai's and Meliza's comment below. Hahaha. Number9dream is all set for June. :)

      Mongolia is in my top three! Along with Night Train and London. Non corpa's narration is amazing, kahit spiritual entity lang siya, he somehow feels fleshed out. :)

  2. This is an awesome review, to think that you said you're having difficulty in writing one for this Mitchell work. I love how he always includes chance and fate in his stories, with a beautifully written prose.

    1. It's hard kasi he has so many grand ideas, you don't know kung alin yung itatackle mo. Hahaha. So it's best to just rave and gush about his work, huwag na mag deconstruct gaya ng ginawa ko. Makes no sense. Hahaha. XD

  3. Can I just copy-paste your review on my blog? Haha! I'm intimidated again by this book I feel that it might take me the end of the year to finally write my own thoughts haha!

    MONIQUE: We WILL read number9dream sometime October. Naka-plano na agad. Hihi. ;)

    1. Lynai, I thought we'll read number9dream in June. And Black Swan Green in November. Hehe.

    2. Oh, sorry my dates got mixed up. :D

    3. Lynai: Pwede! I promise I will not sue you. Hahaha! At okay lang yan, like I said Mitchell's work needs to be slowly digested. Ininhabit lang ata ako ni non corpa kaya naka gawa ng review agad agad. XD Ladies, next stop, number9dream! and next Black Swan Green! Mga adik na tayo. :)

  4. Nice review, Tin. My favorite part is China. The story of that old lady who owned the tea shop captured me, and her story covered China's history in quick succession. :)

  5. Thanks Louize! Oh yeah, the Holy Mountain story! I wasn't so keen on that one because it was a bit tough reading about the things the tea shack lady went through. But the history is amazing. Some of the events mentioned, I did not even know actually happened.


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