David Mitchell (writer)

For other people named David Mitchell, see David Mitchell (disambiguation).
David Mitchell
David Mitchell, 2006
Born (1969-01-12) 12 January 1969 (ageĀ 45)
Southport, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Novelist
Nationality British
Alma mater University of Kent
Period 1999-present
Notable work(s) Ghostwritten, number9dream, Cloud Atlas, Black Swan Green, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
Notable award(s) John Llewellyn Rhys Prize
1999 Ghostwritten

David Stephen Mitchell (born 12 January 1969) is an English novelist. He has written five novels, two of which, number9dream (2001) and Cloud Atlas (2004), were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He has lived in Italy, Japan and Ireland.

Early life

Mitchell was born in Southport in Merseyside, England, and raised in Malvern, Worcestershire. He was educated at Hanley Castle High School and at the University of Kent, where he obtained a degree in English and American Literature followed by an M.A. in Comparative Literature.

Mitchell lived in Sicily for a year, then moved to Hiroshima, Japan, where he taught English to technical students for eight years, before returning to England, where he could live on his earnings as a writer and support his pregnant wife.[1]


Mitchell's first novel, Ghostwritten (1999), moves around the globe, from Okinawa to Mongolia to pre-Millennial New York City, as nine narrators tell stories that interlock and intersect. The novel won the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize (for best work of British literature written by an author under 35) and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award.[2] His two subsequent novels, number9dream (2001) and Cloud Atlas (2004), were both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.[3] In 2003, he was selected as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists.[4] In 2007, Mitchell was listed among Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World.[5] Mitchell's American editor at Random House is novelist David Ebershoff.

In 2012 his novel Cloud Atlas was made into a film.[6] In recent years he has also written opera libretti. Wake, based on the 2000 Enschede fireworks disaster and with music by Klaas de Vries, was performed by the Dutch National Reisopera in 2010.[7] He has also finished another opera, Sunken Garden, with the Dutch composer Michel van der Aa, to be premiered in 2013 by the English National Opera.[8][9]

Mitchell's sixth novel, The Bone Clocks, has 'dollops of the fantastic in it', and is about 'stuff between life and death'.[10] It is not, as previously suggested, about a young girl growing up in Ireland.[10] The opera Sunken Garden works as a prologue to David's forthcoming book, which will be finished in the second half of 2013. It will take place in the years between 1984 and 2057.[11]

Personal life

After another stint in Japan, Mitchell currently lives with his wife Keiko Yoshida and their two children in Clonakilty in County Cork, Ireland. In an essay for Random House, Mitchell wrote:[12] "I knew I wanted to be a writer since I was a kid, but until I came to Japan to live in 1994 I was too easily distracted to do much about it. I would probably have become a writer wherever I lived, but would I have become the same writer if I'd spent the last 6 years in London, or Cape Town, or Moose Jaw, on an oil rig or in the circus? This is my answer to myself."

Mitchell has the speech disorder of stammering[13] and considers the film The King's Speech (2010) to be one of the most accurate portrayals of what it's like to be a stammerer:[13] "I'd probably still be avoiding the subject today had I not outed myself by writing a semi-autobiographical novel, Black Swan Green, narrated by a stammering 13 year old."[13] Mitchell is also a patron of the British Stammering Association.[14]

One of Mitchell's children is autistic, and in 2013, he and wife Keiko translated into English a book written by an autistic 13-year-old Japanese boy. (See The Reason I Jump below.)[15]

List of works

Further reading

  • Mitchell, D. (2009): The Massive Rat [16] (short story published in The Guardian 1 August 2009)
  • Mitchell, D. (2009): Character Development [17] (short story published in The Guardian 2 September 2009, taken from Amnesty International's anthology "Freedom")
  • The world begins its turn with you, or how David Mitchell's novels think. Chapter in B. Schoene. The Cosmopolitan Novel. Edinburgh University Press, 2009.
  • Dillon, S. ed. (2011) (Kent: Gylphi)


External links

  • David Mitchell's official website
  • Man Booker Prize site
  • David Mitchell - How I Write, Untitled Books, May 2010
  • BBC.co
  • The Guardian (2009)
  • "David Mitchell, the Experimentalist", New York Times Magazine, June 2010
  • The New Yorker, 5 July 2010
  • 3news.co.nz, 12 August 2011

Short stories

  • "Judith Castle", The New York Times, January 2008
  • "The Massive Rat", The Guardian, August 2009
  • "Character Development", The Guardian, September 2009
  • "Muggins Here", The Guardian, August 2010

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