David Mitchell’s coming-of-age novel

Claire Messud contrasts the “comparatively small scale and straightforward narrative” of David Mitchell’s Black Swan Green with his Booker-shortlisted Cloud Atlas.

[Cloud Atlas] is made up of six interwoven narratives spanning centuries and continents, from the mid-1800s to a distant post-apocalyptic future in Hawaii. Each vibrant voice and story is radically different, and at first apparently unrelated; their connections only unfold over the course of hundreds of pages. Now reading Black Swan Green, a closely observed first-person account of adolescence in provincial England in the early 1980s, you have the impression of encountering a minutely rendered watercolor landscape by Jackson Pollock: the amazement of recognizing that the author’s considerable talents can extend to this, also.


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