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David Mitchell (author) : biography

12 January 1969 -
Not to be confused with the comedian, David Mitchell (comedian)

David Stephen Mitchell (born 12 January 1969) is an English novelist. He has written five novels, two of which, number9dream (2001) and Cloud Atlas (2004), were shortlisted for the Booker Prize. He has lived in Italy, Japan and Ireland.

Personal life

After another stint in Japan, Mitchell currently lives with his wife Keiko Yoshida and their two children in Clonakilty in County Cork, Ireland. In an essay for Random House, Mitchell wrote: "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 6 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 the speech disorder of stammering, David Mitchell, Prospect magazine, 23 February 2011, Issue #180 and considers the film The King's Speech (2010) to be one of the most accurate portrayals of what it's like to be a stammerer: "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." Mitchell is also a patron of the British Stammering Association.

List of works

  • Ghostwritten (1999)
  • number9dream (2001)
  • Cloud Atlas (2004)
  • Black Swan Green (2006)
  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010)


Mitchell's first novel, Ghostwritten (1999), moves around the globe, from Okinawa to Mongolia to pre-Millennial New York City, as nine narrators tell stories that interlock and intersect. The novel 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. His two subsequent novels, number9dream (2001) and Cloud Atlas (2004), were both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. In 2003, he was selected as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists. In 2007, Mitchell was listed among Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World. Mitchell's American editor at Random House is novelist David Ebershoff.

In 2012 his novel Cloud Atlas was made into a film. In recent years he has also written opera libretti. Wake, based on the 2000 Enschede fireworks disaster and with music by Klaas de Vries, was performed by the Dutch National Reisopera in 2010. He has also finished another opera, Sunken Garden, with the Dutch composer Michel van der Aa, to be premiered in 2013 by English National Opera.

Mitchell's sixth novel, as yet untitled, has 'dollops of the fantastic in it', and is about 'stuff between life and death'. It is not, as previously suggested, about a young girl growing up in Ireland. The opera Sunken Garden works as a prologue to David's forthcoming book, which will be finished in the second half of 2013. It will take place in the years between 1984 and 2057.http://goedekleedjes.nl/2013/06/interview-david-mitchell/]

Early life

Mitchell was born in Southport in 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."My wife and I moved to the UK in 2002 because it dawned on us, midway through her second trimester, that back in England I could support the soon-to-be three of us from my earnings as a writer alone. If we had stayed in Japan, on the other hand, where the cost of living was higher, I would have had to stick with the day job in order to bring home enough yen, and I would have been unable to help with the imminent arrival any more than an average Japanese husband—that is, not a lot." http://www.theparisreview.org/interviews/6034/the-art-of-fiction-no-204-david-mitchell

Living octopus

Living octopus

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