Interview David Mitchell

David Mitchell, Mieke van der Weij

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A dramatic style, an unusual narrative structure and a penchant for the occult: the libretto of Sunken Garden clearly bears the distinctive mark of writer David Mitchell. What’s it like for a novelist to write for the stage? Are Simon Vines, Zenna Law and Amber Jacquemain typical Mitchell characters, even though they express themselves in song? Mieke van der Weij will encourage Mitchell to probe deeper into the literary aspects of the opera and how the libretto fits in with his wider oeuvre, which includes the bestsellers Cloud Atlas and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. In collaboration with Van Rossum Bookstore.


David Mitchell (1969) is a British writer. He has published five novels, of which Cloud atlas (2004) and The thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010) are the best known. He lived in Japan for a long time and is married to a Japanese woman. Many of his novels refer to Japan. Currently, Mitchell resides in Ireland. His work is characterised by a large variety of styles and forms with which he intertwines the various storylines, as in his debut novel Ghostwritten (1999), which was awarded the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and nominated for the Guardian First Book Award. His next two novels number9dream (2001) and Cloud Atlas were both shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Cloud Atlas was made into a movie in 2012 by Tom Twyker, starring Tom Hanks and Halle Berry. Unlike his other novels, Black Swan Green (2006) does not have Mitchell's typical mosaic structure. It tells the semi-autobiographical story of a stammering thirteen year old boy. With The thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet Mitchell broke through to a wider audience in the Netherlands The novel tells the story of the artificial island of Deshima, the Dutch free port near Nagasaki, in the period that the Japanese empire was hermetically closed off from the outside world. In 2003 Mitchell was included in Granta magazine's list of Best of Young British Novelists, and in 2007 he appeared on Time Magazine's list of the one hundred most influential people. Mitchell wrote the libretto for Klaas de Vries’ opera Wake, about the fireworks disaster in the dutch town of Enschede, which was premiered in 2010 by the Nationale Reisopera.