NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The long-awaited new novel from the bestselling, prize-winning author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks.
New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice • “Mitchell’s rich imaginative stews bubble with history and drama, and this time the flavor is a blend of Carnaby Street and Chateau Marmont.”—The Washington Post
“A sheer pleasure to read . . . Mitchell’s prose is suppler and richer than ever . . . Making your way through this novel feels like riding a high-end convertible down Hollywood Boulevard.”—Slate
One of the most anticipated books of summer 2020—USA Today, Time, Entertainment Weekly, BuzzFeed, The Guardian, Vulture, The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Seattle Times, The Daily Beast, New Statesman, Lit Hub, Library Journal, The Millions, The Week, Thrillist
Utopia Avenue is the strangest British band you’ve never heard of. Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967, and fronted by folk singer Elf Holloway, blues bassist Dean Moss and guitar virtuoso Jasper de Zoet, Utopia Avenue embarked on a meteoric journey from the seedy clubs of Soho, a TV debut on Top of the Pops, the cusp of chart success, glory in Amsterdam, prison in Rome, and a fateful American sojourn in the Chelsea Hotel, Laurel Canyon, and San Francisco during the autumn of ’68.
David Mitchell’s kaleidoscopic novel tells the unexpurgated story of Utopia Avenue’s turbulent life and times; of fame’s Faustian pact and stardom’s wobbly ladder; of the families we choose and the ones we don’t; of voices in the head, and the truths and lies they whisper; of music, madness, and idealism. Can we really change the world, or does the world change us?
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
David Mitchell fans sometimes focus so much on his playful postmodern quirks—like the nesting-doll structure of his best-known novel, Cloud Atlas—that they overlook what a remarkable storyteller he is. Set at the height of Swinging London’s psychedelic scene, the deeply emotional Utopia Avenue recounts a 1960s rock band’s hard-fought rise and traumatic fall. The book’s four protagonists—spacey guitar hero Jasper, budding feminist Elf, angry but sensitive brawler Dean, and up-for-anything drummer Griff—create eclectic musical magic together, but their special connection threatens to fall apart at any moment. Just like a great rock album, Mitchell’s novel frequently shifts in mood and tone as it moves back and forth between each character’s point of view. Scenes of antic humor, lovelorn yearning, and sheer existential terror meld into a story that unfolds with the speed and ferocity of a Pete Townshend guitar solo. This is easily the best rock ’n’ roll novel since Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments.
Mitchell's magical, much anticipated latest (after Slade House) is a rollicking, rapturous tale of 1960s rock 'n' roll. Utopia Avenue emerges from the London music scene as a ragtag band of four unforgettable characters, assembled by manager Levon Frankland as a "psychedelic-folk-rock" supergroup. There's Jasper de Zoet, the dark and enigmatic lead guitarist; Elf Holloway, the ethereal songstress on keyboards; Griff Griffin, the gruff but lovable drummer; and Dean Moss, heartthrob bassist and lead singer. Dean, who escaped poverty and his abusive father, turns to music as his outlet of expression. De Zoet seeks a dangerous escape from his schizophrenia in a mystical "psychosurgery" treatment. Meanwhile, Griff, a "drummer-of-many-parts" according to the Village Voice ("Sounds as if my arms and legs unscrew," Griff says), is the glue that keeps them together, and Elf circuitously navigates her sexuality and eventually finds a surprising new love. From dingy nightclubs to the Chelsea Hotel and room service in California, and cameos from Janis Joplin, Jerry Garcia, and members of the Rolling Stones, Mitchell follows the band's sex- and drug-fueled rise to fame in 1968 and the group's abrupt, heartbreaking end. Each chapter name is the title of a song and focuses on one of the main characters in the band, and Mitchell unspools at least a dozen original song lyrics and descriptions of performances that are just as fiery and infectious as his narratives. Mitchell makes the best use of his familiar elements, from recurring characters to an innovative narrative structure, delivering more fun, more mischief, and more heart than ever before. This is Mitchell at his best.