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Publisher's Summary

From David Mitchell, the Booker Prize nominee, award-winning writer, and one of the featured authors in Granta's Best of Young British Novelists 2003 issue, comes his highly anticipated third novel, a work of mind-bending imagination and scope.

A reluctant voyager crossing the Pacific in 1850; a disinherited composer blagging a precarious livelihood in between-the-wars Belgium; a high-minded journalist in Governor Reagan's California; a vanity publisher fleeing his gangland creditors; a genetically modified "dinery server" on death-row; and Zachry, a young Pacific Islander witnessing the nightfall of science and civilization: the narrators of Cloud Atlas hear each other's echoes down the corridor of history, and their destinies are changed in ways great and small.

In his captivating third novel, shortlisted for the Booker Prize, David Mitchell erases the boundaries of language, genre, and time to offer a meditation on humanity's dangerous will to power, and where it may lead us.

This audiobook is available exclusively as an audio download!

Note to customers: The complicated format of this novel makes it seem that the audio may be cutting off before the end of a story, accompanied by a change in narrator. However, this is the author's intention, so please continue to listen, and the stories will conclude themselves as intended.

©2004 David Mitchell; (P)2004 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

  • 2005 Audie Award Nominee, Literary Fiction
"[Mitchell's] exuberant, Nabokovian delight in word play; his provocative grapplings with the great unknowables; and most of all his masterful storytelling: all coalesce to make Cloud Atlas an exciting, almost overwhelming masterpiece." (Washington Times)
"[Cloud Atlas] glows with a fizzy, dizzy energy, pregnant with possibility and whispering in your ear: listen closely to a story, any story, and you'll hear another story inside it, eager to meet the world." (The Village Voice)
"A remarkable book....It knits together science fiction, political thriller, and historical pastiche with musical virtuosity and linguistic exuberance: there won't be a bigger, bolder novel next year." (The Guardian)

What members say

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favorite audio book/ book of the past ten years at least. quirky, fun and intelligent

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  • Performance
  • Story
  • Catherine
  • Washington, DC, United States
  • 10-26-11


When I first started listening to audio books, I still kept reading "good" books on paper, and just listened to books I knew I wouldn't have wanted to keep on my book shelf forever. Sort of like I don't like to see movies of books that I love. Well, this one made me realize that a work of literature can be enhanced by an excellent audio performance. This is a weird and wonderful work of modern fiction, and all of the performances are perfect. Now I find out first if a book is available here before I buy it on paper.

  • Overall
  • Steve
  • Playa del Rey, CA, United States
  • 06-10-11


Kind of disjointed. I really enjoyed one story and the person who narrates it. ... and that story is hilarious. Truly funny. The dialogue written for the Hawaii story is utterly irritating. The main character's narration sounds like a cross between Bob Marley and Jar Jar Binks. Anyway, overall mildly entertaining.

  • Overall
  • Dorothy
  • Allentown, PA, United States
  • 03-31-11

A remarkable experience

I have listened to hundreds of audiobooks over the past 15 years and I would put this one near the very top. I liked it so much I went out and bought the book, but reading it isn't nearly the artistic experience that listening to it affords. The various characters really come to life and their interwoven stories are compelling. I found it by searching for my favorite narrator, John Lee, and I am once again grateful for his skills because, although he narrates only a part of this title, my devotion to his work is what brought me to it. Thanks to all who made this performance a reality.

  • Overall


I wondered where this book was headed when I first started listening, and almost didn't stick with it past the first few chapters. That would have been my loss. Each story within the whole is fascinating by itself, and how they all tie together across time and geography is thought-provoking. I don't always care for multiple readers, but in this case, each was beautifully suited to the character. Each change of reader was a jolt and took getting used to, and then soon it was unimaginable that the new character could have any other voice. Suspenseful, nuanced, sometimes funny sometimes sad, engrossing. I was sorry when it ended.

  • Overall

Different, but very good book.

This is a very different book. I knew nothing about it and was just taking a chance on an author I'd heard about. In the beginning I was honestly turned off but when I realized the format I could enjoy it much better. I would definitely recommend. It's amazing how the author could write so drastically different in each of these short stories. I love how he takes us forward and then backward, each time revealing more.

  • Overall
  • Lindsey
  • Menlo Park, CA, United States
  • 10-23-10

very good

The book starts out a bit slow, but gets better and better. Definitely worth the time. Very creative storytelling.

  • Overall

a bit bizantine, but enjoyable

This book is made of several different stories, spanning different epoques. As such, each of the stories would need a separate review. The fact is that the stories are only superficially, almost artificially connected among themselves. It almost feels like the author needed an excuse to show the public how well he could write a novel in the "memoir" style, another one in the "thriller style", another one in the "letter form" and in the "sci-fi" style and so on, in juts one single book. once said that the stories are all enjoyable and the narrators are all extremely good. worth the time, but cannot call it a masterpiece.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Reader
  • United States
  • 08-13-10

Fabulous, complicated story

I loved the complicated structure and the intertwined story lines. I would have liked this to go on forever.

  • Overall


Cloud Atlas takes literary device to what one would think would be ridiculous levels. The book has a nested doll structure that five times stops the reader mid-story. You get to see the front of a doll before it is swallowed by its companion. The sixth doll swallows the fifth and you get view it front and back before 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 are released so you may view their backsides.

Each story has its own reader and they all do commendable work, with a particular tip of the hat to the reader of the sixth story who makes a thick dialect sing.

I loved listening to this book. The story was continually engaging, entertaining and thought provoking. One thing I would suggest. Don't worry when the first story jarringly turns into the second. It's by design. Enjoy the ride from the past to the distant future and back.

3 of 6 people found this review helpful