Born in Southport in 1969, David Mitchell grew up in Malvern, Worcestershire, studying for a degree in English and American Literature followed by an MA in Comparative Literature, at the University of Kent. He lived for a year in Sicily before moving to Hiroshima, Japan, where he taught English to technical students for eight years, before returning to England.
In his first novel, Ghostwritten (1999), nine narrators in nine locations across the globe tell interlocking stories. This novel won the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award.
His second novel, number9dream (2001), was shortlisted for the 2002 Man Booker Prize for fiction. It is set in modern day Tokyo and tells the story of Eiji Miyake's search for his father.
In 2003 David Mitchell was named by Granta magazine as one of twenty 'Best of Young British Novelists'. In his third novel, Cloud Atlas (2004), a young Pacific islander witnesses the nightfall of science and civilisation, while questions of history are explored in a series of seemingly disconnected narratives. Cloud Atlas was shortlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.
David Mitchell lives in Ireland. His latest novel is Black Swan Green (2006)
We met recently in Toronto to talk about experimentation and realism, plot, character and all that good stuff, but also about the greatness of John Cheever, high brow and pulp fiction, good pot boilers, the cosmos, cosmi, connections, melding verbs, platitudinous profundities, critics as platypus taxidermists, poetry in prose, the originalities of happy blunders and cultural juxtapositions, Perec's W, monkeying with structure, planning your funeral, evaluative criticism and the delightful experience of reading Chekhov's short stories.
"I wanted to thank you for your many generous and intelligent words about my new book How Fiction Works (and other stuff)... I get great pleasure from reading your blog."
Critic, James Wood, The New Yorker.
"You can find very bad writing and sloppy impressionism in literary blogs, but also incisive, fresh, thoughtful criticism from voices unencumbered by the politics of Grub St". I would put your blog in the latter category, which is why I’m responding here… Congratulations on a very fine blog."
Scholar, Dr. Ronan McDonald.
"You ask the most brilliant, thoughtful questions, it's really a pleasure to do an interview where someone actually wants to talk about writing and literature in general."
Novelist Margot Livesey.
"The happy result of all this (the Salon des Refuses experience) from my own perspective was my discovery of the wonderful "Note Bene," which I added to my "favourites" early in the summer and which I have read - and listened to - with great pleasure ever since."
Novelist Jane Urquhart.
"I spent a bit of time last night perusing, as I often do, Nigel Beale's Nota Bene. My suggestion is that you do the same. It is truly a remarkable site."
Litblogger Frank Wilson