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."

Arts and Entertainment
Howard Mollison, as played by Michael Gambon
tvReview: Too often The Casual Vacancy resembled a jumble of deleted scenes from Hot Fuzz
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David performs in his play ‘Fish in the Dark'
theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Jemima West in Channel 4's Indian Summers (Joss Barratt/Channel 4)
tvReview: More questions and plot twists keep viewers guessing
Arts and Entertainment
Kristin Scott Thomas outside the Royal Opera House before the ceremony (Getty)
film
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Channel 4's Indian Summers
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

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.

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003