Finalist for the 2021 National Book Award, longlisted for the 2022 Andrew Carnegie Medal, and the instant New York Times bestseller!
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of All the Light We Cannot See, perhaps the most bestselling and beloved literary fiction of our time, comes the highly anticipated Cloud Cuckoo Land.
Set in Constantinople in the fifteenth century, in a small town in present-day Idaho, and on an interstellar ship decades from now, Anthony Doerr’s gorgeous third novel is a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring story about children on the cusp of adulthood in worlds in peril, who find resilience, hope—and a book. In Cloud Cuckoo Land, Doerr has created a magnificent tapestry of times and places that reflects our vast interconnectedness—with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us, and with those who will be here after we’re gone.
Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross.
Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.
Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All the Light We Cannot See, Anna, Omeir, Seymour, Zeno, and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders who find resourcefulness and hope in the midst of gravest danger. Their lives are gloriously intertwined. Doerr’s dazzling imagination transports us to worlds so dramatic and immersive that we forget, for a time, our own. Dedicated to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come,” Cloud Cuckoo Land is a beautiful and redemptive novel about stewardship—of the book, of the Earth, of the human heart.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Anthony Doerr follows up his Pulitzer Prize winner, All the Light We Cannot See, with a novel that’s even more ambitious and riveting. Cloud Cuckoo Land weaves together the stories of five extraordinary individuals, whose lives span three separate eras: 1400s Constantinople, modern-day Idaho, and a spaceship in the far future. Doerr’s passion for storytelling is infectious. He’s equally at home portraying the intimate magic of a young girl learning to read as he is dropping us on board a starship hurtling toward the outer reaches of the universe. This is an immersive read that reminds us just how fragile and connected we human beings are.
Pulitzer winner Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See) returns with a deeply affecting epic of a long-lost book from ancient Greece. In the mid-22nd century, Konstance, 14, copies an English translation of Cloud Cuckoo Land by Antonius Diogenes with her food printer's Nourish powder while aboard the Argos, an ark-like spaceship destined for a habitable planet. She found the book in the Argos's library, and was already familiar with Diogenes's story of a shepherd named Aethon and his search for a book that told of all the world's unknown lands, because her father told it to her while they tended the Argos's farm. Her father's connection to the Diogenes book is gradually revealed, but first Doerr takes the reader farther back in time. In chapters set in and around Constantinople leading up to the 1453 siege, two 13-year-old children, Anna and Omeir, converge while fleeing the city, and Omeir helps Anna protect a codex of Cloud Cuckoo Land she discovered in a monastery. Then, in 2020 Lakeport, Idaho, translator Zeno Ninis collaborates with a group of young children on a stage production of Cloud Cuckoo Land at the library, where a teenage ecoterrorist has planted a bomb meant to target the neighboring real estate office. Doerr seamlessly shuffles each of these narratives in vignettes that keep the action in full flow and the reader turning the pages. The descriptions of Constantinople, Idaho, and the Argos are each distinct and fully realized, and the protagonists of each are united by a determination to survive and a hunger for stories, which in Doerr's universe provide the greatest nourishment. This is a marvel.
Cloud Cuckoo Land
Another beautifully written novel by Doerr with 5 linked stories- linked by a love of an ancient novel and focusing on children going through existential challenges but overcoming them. The theme of the book is humanity’s treatment of the natural world over the centuries. The final installment in the story reminds us there is no escape- we have to preserve and protect our world.
I didn’t want it to end. Read it.
Ignore that other negative review please...
I read that other review and questioned whether I should read this book. Was it too lofty for the common reader to enjoy and take something away from it? Honestly, I'm personally concinced that other reader was impatient, gave up, and completely missed the point. The magnitude of the characters and their stories is intentional and a plot device that is necessary for this epic to make sense. Without their individual tales-- it would not weave itself together with the greater reason and point of this story.
Give this book the time it needs to delve within all of their tales and you'll find that the Ancient text of a "dull-witted mutton-headed lamebrain" is the spine that interweaves each of the main 5 stories together that truly is timeless.
If you want something that's 'light'-- this may not be for you right now. There is something within each of the 5 stories for everyone, but if you don't accept that because 'the pace didn't pick up': go read a thriller or romance, the weight of this book will be wasted if you're impatient. Come back to this when you want to commit to the journey.