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David Mitchell ‘Pole Vaults’ to Cloud Atlas

Praised for being inventive and original, the 2004 novel Cloud Atlas written by David Mitchell tells a story through six separate but related narratives, each set in a different time and place, and written in a different style.

Mitchell, a two-time finalist for the Booker Prize, told Leonard Lopate on Wednesday that the idea for the novel was part youthful impetuousness and part a “pole vault” from another book – a post-modernist Italian novel, If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler, where a sequence of stories constantly get interrupted and never finished.

“I enjoyed it, but it kind of left me frustrated,” Mitchell said on The Leonard Lopate Show. “For years I wondered what it would look like if you tried to put a mirror at the end of the book so that you actually do go back and pick up the discontinued narratives.”

Mitchell said he wrote the individual stories first and then — using his computer’s cut and paste tools — broke up the stories “about an hour before I was due to email the manuscript to my editor.”

Cloud Atlas is The Leonard Lopate Show’s book club selection for October.

Listen to Leonard Lopate’s full interview with David Mitchell above.