It's been too long since I read a book in white heat, unable to put it aside for much more than the minimal necessities of sleep and food. Cloud Atlas, the second of David Mitchell's books to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize, is a genre-bender obviously inspired by the structural hijinks of If on a winter's night a traveller, but with more lofty themes. Mitchell's series of interlocking stories speak to contemporary hot button issues like genetic modification and corporate power, but are more concerned with the constant tension between human progress and improvement and human greed and lust for power over others. Historical fiction, epistolary novel, thriller, wry social commentary, sci-fi dystopia, post-apocalyptic lament: Cloud Atlas is bigger than the sum of its parts, but each part is to be savored.
I don't want to give too much away, as much of my enjoyment of this book was based on the unfolding of surprises both structural and narrative. But run, do not walk, to your nearest library or Barnes & Noble for a copy of this book.