Books Like Cloud Atlas
David Mitchell wrote two other novels before publishing Cloud Atlas in 2004, but it is the book that most readers associate with him. It is one of the most ambitious books of its time as it features six stories that don't just span multiple time periods but are also intrinsically interconnected. Mitchell wrote the stories in such a way that every one of them is connected in some way to the one that follows while also being central to one overarching story. This "Russian doll" structure made the author believe that the book would be impossible to adapt to a film. However, the Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer managed to do just that in 2012 with a movie featuring an ensemble cast that included Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, and Hugh Grant. As ambitious as the movie was, it still could not compare to the complexity of the novel. Readers who enjoyed the non-linear in the novel will also appreciate the following books like Cloud Atlas.
Cloud Atlas is one of his most well-known books, but Mitchell also used a similar story structure for some of his other novels, including Ghostwritten, his 1999 debut. Ghostwritten features an episodic tale, but each of its chapters not only has a different story, but also a different central character. However, these characters are all linked to each other in some way. In addition, just like Cloud Atlas, the setting for each story differs and ranges from Okinawa and Tokyo to Mongolia, London, and Saint Petersburg.
by Italo Calvino
If On A Winter's Night A Traveler is a 1979 postmodernist novel by Italian author Italo Calvino. David Mitchell, the author of Cloud Atlas, has mentioned that the book magnetized him when he read it as an undergraduate, and its style clearly influenced his own work. William Weaver published an English translation of the novel, which features different styles, genres, and stories for the chapters, in 1981. The overarching story is about you, the reader, attempting to read a book only to discover that the pages are out of order. This prompts a return to the bookstore for a new copy where you encounter a girl named Ludmilla who joins you on your quest for the rest of the book.
by Vladimir Nabokov
Most readers know Vladimir Nabokov because of his controversial 1955 novel, Lolita, but he also wrote Pale Fire in 1962. It's about the last work of a poet named John Shade, which is a 999-line poem. However, it also features forward, commentary, and index by Charles Kinbote, who was Shade's biggest admirer. Kinbote was also Shade's academic colleague and went as far as moving in across the lane from Shade to become his neighbor. It is through Kinbote's commentary that the plot emerges in the form of different stories that are connected to each other and the lives of the two authors.
by Catherine McKinnon
Storyland by Catherine McKinnon is an ambitious novel that is set in Australia, and it tells a story that is set in the past, present, as well as the future. The time period in Storyland actually stretches from 1796 to 2717 and covers six specific time periods, namely 1796, 1822, 1900, 1998, 2033, and 2717. These time periods also have their own characters, and while it might sound disjointed Storyland is actually one of the more accessible books to make use of this type of storytelling method. The cover of the book states that "the land is a book waiting to be read," and McKinnon definitely managed to pull it off with Storyland.
by Andres Neuman
Traveler of the Century is the English-language debut of Andrés Neuman, a Spanish-Argentine writer, and poet. With this book, Neuman tells the story of a traveler named Hans, who ends up in the small city of Wandernburg that is situated on the border region of Saxony and Prussia. It is only supposed to be an overnight stop on his way to his final destination, but Hans quickly discovers that Wandernburg is no ordinary place. When Hans becomes caught up in an intense debate, with an old organ-grinder of all people, he finds himself stuck in Wandernburg. In the process, Hans also encounters the various inhabitants of the city while the genre and style of the novel itself continue to change.
by Ian McDonald
Brasyl, the 2007 novel by Ian McDonald, has been described as "Bladerunner in the tropics," but like Cloud Atlus, it shifts between different characters, time periods, and even genres. All three of the protagonists in Brasyl is linked together across time, space and, reality in a novel that mixes science fiction, history, and mystery. The characters range from an 18th century Jesuit missionary to a contemporary reality television producer and a near-future talent impresario who gets caught up in illegal quantum computing. Tying the threads of these stories together is Brazil of the past, present, and future.
by Claire North
The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August was published in 2014 by author Catherine Webb, under the pseudonym of Claire North. It is the story of Harry August, a man attempting to save a past that he cannot change as well as a future he cannot allow. Harry is unique because each time that he dies, he is born again, but retains the knowledge of his earlier life. However, instead of continuing forward in time, Harry returns to 1919 when he is reborn. Harry eventually discovers that he is a member of a very exclusive group called the Cronus Club and that there are very specific rules that they follow. Things continue this way with Harry dying and being reborn, until one day a young girl gives him a message on his death bed that changes everything.