Linda Malcom of Indigo Books in Freshfields Village shares her thoughts on it below.
Cloud Cuckoo Land: noun Cloud Cuckoo Land is a state of absurdly, over-optimistic fantasy or an unrealistically idealistic state where everything is perfect.
Anthony Doerr’s new novel (after the Pulitzer-winning All the Light We Cannot See) was released on September 28. As I was reading an advance copy of Cloud Cuckoo Land, I would often remark to my husband, “This is a weird book.” Now, if you know my predilection for quirky books, then you would know that characterization as “weird” is not necessarily a bad thing. And it certainly wasn’t in this case.
Just as in All the Light, Doerr writes parallel stories that may—or may not—intersect or may do so only briefly. Instead of two stories, in this novel we follow the stories of five characters: Anna, Omeira, Zeno, Seymour, and Konstance. The place and time settings range widely from 15th century Constantinople, to twentieth and twenty-first century Idaho (with a bit of Korea thrown in), to a space station in the future on a decades-long journey to a planet beyond our galaxy. The thread that binds these stories together is a fragmentary ancient Greek manuscript that tells the story of Aethon, a simple shepherd, and his trials and travails as he searches for the mythical, Utopian Cloud Cuckoo Land.
It is hard to classify this book. Is it Science fiction? Fantasy? Historical fiction? Coming of age story? Eco-thriller? It’s all of these, but much more. In the end, it is a paean to books and stories, to those who write and tell them, and to those who preserve and pass them along. In fact, Doerr dedicates the book to all who are librarians.
There is much to learn, to think about, and to discuss in this beautifully written book and I want to read it again, all 600+ pages. This time, I think I will read each character’s story straight through, just to make sure I didn’t miss anything. It’s THAT kind of a book. Weird, huh?
-Linda Malcolm, Indigo Books, Guest Columnist
(Image credit: CMPL)