by David Mitchell
Mitchell, author of such headspinning novels as Cloud Atlas (see below) and Ghostwritten, has, at first glance, stepped off his runaway train to write something more traditional: a semi-autobiographical "first novel." This is a coming-of-age tale of a year in the life of one 13-year-old boy living in a suburb in northwestern England in 1982. That's right, just one boy, one voice, one village, one year. This is still David Mitchell, though, and he shows that a year with Jason Taylor can be just as wonderfully complex and multi-layered as anything else. Jason's voice is unique, something he himself learns to deal with over the course of the book. Identity is a theme familiar to Mitchell fans, as are several other themes here: self-perception, the power of the individual, the strong versus the weak, the unrelenting change inherent in being alive. Beautifully done.