Kirkus Reviews QR Code
NUMBER9DREAM by David Mitchell


by David Mitchell

Pub Date: March 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-375-50726-4
Publisher: Random House

A wildly inventive set of variations on an abandoned young Japanese man’s Sisyphean search for his father under the aegis of John Lennon and the mystical number nine.

Eiji Miyake’s quest starts off with a bang as he proceeds from the Jupiter Café to the behemoth PanOpticon building, disguised as an aquarium serviceman, to extract at gunpoint his father’s address from his attorney, who turns out to be a bioborg replicant. Or he phones her in a halfhearted attempt to make an appointment. Or he follows her to a cinema where she’s meeting his father. Or—in a scenario that seems just as real as the others—he attempts to bluff his way into the building. This hall of mirrors opens into a roistering, episodic tale that moves back and forth between Eiji’s childhood—where, spurned by the minister who supported his illegitimate twins financially but refused to see them or their mother, Eiji unwittingly sacrificed his sister Anju to the thunder god—and his increasingly baroque plans to track down his father in a postmodern Tokyo where waking and dreaming, people and computers are virtually indistinguishable. His feckless schemes immerse him in an acquaintance’s hard-nosed plot to get revenge on the girlfriend who stood him up, as well as a Yakuza war over the market for illegally harvested human organs, and project his search onto his grandfather’s testing of a desperate WWII anti-American weapon and an alter ego who clamors for the audience his animal fable offers. All the while, apparently minor characters—a computer nerd at the lost-property office, a female private eye, a Jupiter Café waitress with a perfect neck—gradually assume an importance of truly paranoiac dimensions.

Booker nominee Mitchell (Ghostwritten, 2000) offers fans of Kafka, Pynchon, and DeLillo state-of-the-art dreams of a Tokyo landscape that could have come straight out of a video game. A demented, maddeningly playful, important book.