David Mitchell (author)

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David Mitchell
Mitchell in 2006
Mitchell in 2006
BornDavid Stephen Mitchell
(1969-01-12) 12 January 1969 (age 54)
Southport, England
OccupationNovelist, television writer, screenwriter
EducationUniversity of Kent
Notable worksnumber9dream
Cloud Atlas
Notable awardsJohn Llewellyn Rhys Prize
1999 Ghostwritten
SpouseKeiko Yoshida

David Stephen Mitchell (born 12 January 1969) is an English novelist, television writer, and screenwriter.

He has written nine novels, two of which, number9dream (2001) and Cloud Atlas (2004), were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He has also written articles for several newspapers, most notably for The Guardian, and translated books about autism from Japanese to English.

Early life[edit]

Mitchell was born in Southport in Lancashire (now 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), takes place in locations ranging from Okinawa in Japan to Mongolia to pre-Millennial New York City, as nine narrators tell stories that interlock and intersect. It 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]

In 2012, his metafictional novel Cloud Atlas (again, with multiple narrators), was made into a feature film. One segment of number9dream was made into a BAFTA-nominated short film in 2013 starring Martin Freeman, titled The Voorman Problem.[6] He has also written opera libretti in recent years. Wake, based on the 2000 Enschede fireworks disaster and with music by Klaas de Vries, was performed by the Dutch Nationale Reisopera in 2010.[7] He has also finished another opera, Sunken Garden, with the Dutch composer Michel van der Aa, which premiered in 2013 by the English National Opera.[8]

Several of Mitchell's book covers were created by design duo Kai and Sunny.[9] Mitchell has also collaborated with the duo, by contributing two short stories to their art exhibits in 2011 and 2014.

Mitchell's sixth novel, The Bone Clocks, was published on 2 September 2014.[10] In an interview in The Spectator, Mitchell said that the novel has "dollops of the fantastic in it", and is about "stuff between life and death".[11] The Bone Clocks was longlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize.[12]

Mitchell was the second author to contribute to the Future Library project and delivered his book From Me Flows What You Call Time on 28 May 2016.[13][14]

Utopia Avenue, Mitchell's ninth novel, was published by Hodder & Stoughton on 14 July 2020.[15] Utopia Avenue tells the "unexpurgated story" of a British band of the same name, who emerged from London's psychedelic scene in 1967 and was "fronted by folk singer Elf Holloway, guitar demigod Jasper de Zoet and blues bassist Dean Moss", said publisher Sceptre.[16]

Other works[edit]

Following the release of the 2012 film adaptation of Cloud Atlas, Mitchell commenced work as a screenwriter alongside Lana Wachowski (one of Cloud Atlas' three directors). In 2015, Mitchell contributed plotting and scripted scenes for the second season of the Netflix series Sense8 by the Wachowskis, who had adapted the novel for the screen, and together with Aleksandar Hemon they wrote the series finale.[17] Mitchell had signed a contract to write season three of the series before Netflix's cancellation of the show.[18]

In August 2019, it was announced that Mitchell would continue his collaboration with Lana Wachowski and Hemon to write the screenplay for The Matrix Resurrections with them.[19]

Personal life[edit]

After another stint in Japan, Mitchell and his wife, Keiko Yoshida, live in Ardfield, County Cork, Ireland, as of 2018. They have two children.[20] In an essay for Random House, Mitchell wrote:[21]

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 six 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 a stammer[22] and considers the film The King's Speech (2010) to be one of the most accurate portrayals of what it is like to be a stammerer:[22] "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."[22] Mitchell is also a patron of the British Stammering Association.[23]

Mitchell's son is autistic. In 2013, he and his wife Yoshida translated a book written by Naoki Higashida, a 13-year-old Japanese autistic boy, titled The Reason I Jump: One Boy's Voice from the Silence of Autism.[24] Higashida allegedly learned to communicate using the discredited techniques of facilitated communication and rapid prompting method.[citation needed]} In 2017, Mitchell and his wife translated the follow-up book also attributed to Higashida, Fall Down 7 Times Get Up 8: A Young Man's Voice from the Silence of Autism.[25]

List of works[edit]



Short stories

  • "The January Man", Granta 81: Best of Young British Novelists, Spring 2003
  • "What You Do Not Know You Want", McSweeney's Enchanted Chamber of Astonishing Stories, Vintage Books (Random House), 2004
  • "Acknowledgments", Prospect, 2005
  • "Preface", The Daily Telegraph, April 2006
  • "Dénouement", The Guardian, May 2007
  • "Judith Castle", The New York Times, January 2008
  • "An Inside Job", Included in "Fighting Words", edited by Roddy Doyle, published by Stoney Road Press, 2009 (Limited to 150 copies)[26]
  • "The Massive Rat", The Guardian, August 2009
  • "Character Development", The Guardian, September 2009
  • "Muggins Here", The Guardian, August 2010
  • "Earth calling Taylor", Financial Times, December 2010
  • "The Siphoners", Included in "I'm With the Bears: Short Stories from a Damaged Planet", 2011
  • "The Gardener", in the exhibit "The Flower Show" by Kai and Sunny, 2011 (Limited to 50 copies)
  • "Lots of Bits of Star", in the exhibit "Caught by the Nest" by Kai and Sunny, 2013 (Limited to 50 copies)
  • "Variations on a Theme by Mister Donut", Granta 127: Japan, Spring 2014
  • "The Right Sort", Twitter, 2014
  • "A Forgettable Story", Cathay Pacific Discovery, July 2017 [archived]
  • "If Wishes Was Horses", The New York Times Magazine, July 2020
  • "By Misadventure", The European Review of Books, 11 June 2021

Opera librettos

Selected articles

  • "Japan and my writing", Essay
  • "Enter the Maze", The Guardian, 2004
  • "Kill me or the cat gets it", The Guardian, 2005 (Book review of Kafka on the Shore)
  • "Let me speak", British Stammering Association, 2006
  • "On historical fiction", The Daily Telegraph, 2010
  • "Adventures in Opera", The Guardian, 2010
  • "Imaginary City", Geist, 2010
  • "Lost for words", Prospect, 2011
  • "Learning to live with my son's autism", The Guardian, 2013
  • "David Mitchell on Earthsea – a rival to Tolkien and George RR Martin", The Guardian, 23 October 2015
  • "Kate Bush and me: David Mitchell on being a lifelong fan of the pop poet". The Guardian, 7 December 2018[27]



  1. ^ Begley, Interviewed by Adam (2010), "David Mitchell, The Art of Fiction No. 204", The Paris Review, Summer 2010 (193)
  2. ^ Gibbons, Fiachra (6 November 1999). "Readers pick top Guardian books". The Guardian. London.
  3. ^ "Man Booker Prize Archive". Archived from the original on 6 January 2012.
  4. ^ Mitchell, D. (2003). "Best of Young British Novelists 2003: The January Man". Granta (81). Archived from the original on 7 September 2012.
  5. ^ "The Transformative Experience of Writing for "Sense8"". The New Yorker. 1 May 2010. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  6. ^ "Link to video". 21 July 2017.
  7. ^ David Mitchell (8 May 2010). "Article by Mitchell describing how he became involved in Wake". Guardian. London. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  8. ^ "Details of Sunken Garden from Van der Aa's official website". Vanderaa.net. 9 June 2013. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  9. ^ "Kai and Sunny: Publishing"
  10. ^ "New David Mitchell novel out next autumn". The Bookseller. 26 November 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  11. ^ "Interview with a writer: David Mitchell". The Spectator. 25 January 2013. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 27 January 2013.
  12. ^ Flood, Alison (30 May 2016). "David Mitchell buries latest manuscript for a hundred years". The Guardian. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  13. ^ "David Mitchell is the Second Author to Join the Future Library Project of 2114". Tor.com. 31 May 2016. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  14. ^ "The Future Library Project: In 100 years, this forest will be harvested to print David Mitchell's latest work". CBC Radio. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  15. ^ Mitchell, David (2 June 2020). Utopia Avenue. ISBN 9781444799446.
  16. ^ Flood, Alison (26 September 2019). "David Mitchell announces Utopia Avenue, his first novel in five years". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 24 June 2020.
  17. ^ "'Sense8': Production begins on Netflix special". EW.com. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
  18. ^ Hemon, Aleksandar (27 September 2017). "The Transformative Experience of Writing for "Sense8"". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 27 September 2017.
  19. ^ Kroll, Justin (20 August 2019). "'Matrix 4' Officially a Go With Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss and Lana Wachowski". Variety. Retrieved 20 August 2019.
  20. ^ Olson, Danel (Winter 2018). "David Mitchell". Weird Fiction Review (9): 384–404.
  21. ^ "Bold Type: Essay by David Mitchell". Randomhouse.com. Retrieved 28 August 2013.
  22. ^ a b c "Lost for words", David Mitchell, Prospect magazine, 23 February 2011, Issue No. 180
  23. ^ "Black Swan Green revisited". Speaking Out. British Stammering Association. Spring 2011. Archived from the original on 16 October 2011. Retrieved 30 June 2011.
  24. ^ Tisdale, Sallie (23 August 2013). "Voice of the Voiceless". New York Times. Retrieved 1 September 2013.
  25. ^ Doherty, Mike (13 July 2017). "David Mitchell on translating—and learning from—Naoki Higashida". Maclean's.
  26. ^ Day, Elizabeth (11 March 2012). "Roddy Doyle: the joy of teaching children to write". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  27. ^ Mitchell, David (7 December 2018). "Kate Bush and me: David Mitchell on being a lifelong fan of the pop poet". The Guardian.
  28. ^ "Author David Mitchell on working with 'hero' Kate Bush". 11 September 2014.
  29. ^ Fabiana Bianchi (2 October 2017). "Sense8 a Napoli, svelato il titolo dell'attesa puntata finale girata in città". Napolike (in Italian). Archived from the original on 7 October 2017. Retrieved 7 October 2017.
  30. ^ Aleksandar Hemon (27 September 2017). "The Transformative Experience of Writing for "Sense8"". The New Yorker. Condé Nast. Archived from the original on 27 September 2017. Retrieved 27 September 2017.


External links[edit]