The Blagger's Guide To: David Mitchell

With the added risk of ending up dead, face down in a pie ...

David Mitchell's "unfilmable" 2004 novel, Cloud Atlas, is finally to be released as a film this Friday, having already divided the critics in America. Salon called it "an amazing, baffling, thrilling and (for many, it would appear) irritating experience, and for my money the most beautiful and distinctive big-screen vision of the year", but Rolling Stone thought that it was "an uphill battle". Mitchell's brilliant "Russian doll" structure of interlocking stories which cross generations has been adapted into a "mosaic structure", in which the actors – including Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Jim Sturgess, Ben Whishaw, Hugh Grant plus Jim Broadbent and Susan Sarandon – play different roles. It is directed by Andy and Lana Wachowski and Tom Tykwer. Look out for Mitchell in a cameo appearance – he's a tall, blond, English man, possibly with a slight stammer.

Mitchell told The New Yorker: "As I was writing Cloud Atlas, I thought, 'It's a shame this is unfilmable.'" It was the script which persuaded him otherwise. "This could be one of those movies that are better than the book," he decided after reading it.

As well as a best-seller, Mitchell is very much an author's author. Dave Eggers wrote, in The New York Times: "Cloud Atlas is one of those how-the-holy-hell-did-he-do-it? modern classics that no doubt is – and should be – read by any student of contemporary fiction." A S Byatt has always been a fan, and said: "David tells a good story. He doesn't have any intention of refashioning the world, he doesn't even really have a message. His writing just gives intense pleasure."

Cloud Atlas is one of two David Mitchell novels which have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. It lost out, in 2004, to Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty. The other book was number9dream, which was beaten to the prize by Peter Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang. Mitchell's fourth and fifth novels, Black Swan Green and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, were longlisted in 2006 and 2010.

The author David Mitchell is significantly less touchy than the comedian David Mitchell about being called "the other David Mitchell". There are also David Mitchells in acting, directing, music (the keyboard player with The Supernaturals), politics (a former Conservative MP) and sport (at least four footballers, a cricketer and a figure skater), as well as a Scottish bishop who died of a mortal fever in 1662.

Mitchell wrote his "first novel", Black Swan Green, fourth. By that, he means that it was a semi-autobiographical novel about a young boy with a stammer, growing up in Worcestershire. It even has a cameo appearance by a character from Cloud Atlas. Black Swan Green is currently being adapted for the screen by Ruby Films and Channel 4.

Mitchell was once turned down for a job opening at McDonald's. He is a patron of the British Stammering Association.

When a previous literary editor of The IoS asked Mitchell about his writing style, he drafted a story that ended up with her dead, face down in a pie.

Mitchell is currently finishing his sixth novel. Last month, he told The Spectator it has "dollops of the fantastic in it", as well as "stuff between life and death. And the soul."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum