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Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel Hardcover – September 28, 2021
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From the Publisher
*FINALIST FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FOR FICTION*
A Most Anticipated Pick by the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Time, Entertainment Weekly, People, Parade, USA Today, Thrillist, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, NPR.org, Buzzfeed, Good Morning America, CNN.com, EOnline, PopSugar, Country Living, The Guardian, Christian Science Monitor, The Week, Bustle, HeyAlma, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Fortune, BookRiot, LitHub, Good Housekeeping, The Millions, B&N Reads, AARP, Chicago Tribune
“If you’re looking for a superb novel, look no further.”
—Bethanne Patrick, Washington Post
“In Cloud Cuckoo Land, [Doerr] writes a marvel of a story himself, filled with gorgeous language and distinctive characters. He sweeps readers in and gives us the enveloping experience of living in another world. . . . [A] great novel.”
—Maureen Corrigan, Wall Street Journal
“[Cloud Cuckoo Land is] a wildly inventive novel that teems with life, straddles an enormous range of experience and learning, and embodies the storytelling gifts that it celebrates. . . . A humane and uplifting book for adults that’s infused with the magic of childhood reading experiences.”
—Marcel Theroux, New York Times Book Review
“Anthony Doerr is not just a master of storytelling. He is, arguably, a magician. . . . There's no need to dream of a beautiful land, up above the clouds, to escape 2021 for a few hours. Anthony Doerr's magic, captured in the pages of this thrilling, lovely, deeply satisfying book, will take you there.”
—Gail Pennington, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Of all our contemporary fiction writers, Anthony Doerr is the one whose novels seem to be the purest response to the primal request: tell me a story. . . . [Cloud Cuckoo Land] transports us far above the stars, and down into the mud. It dazzles, and disturbs. And I for one wanted Doerr’s vast and overwhelming story to last much, much longer.”
—Maureen Corrigan, Fresh Air
“Sprawling and ambitious and imaginative. . . . [Doerr] is a writer with the rare ability to achieve the universal and the specific simultaneously. His stories, both vast and intimate, are dazzling, sometimes dizzying in their scope. . . . [Cloud Cuckoo Land] is unlike anything you’ve ever read.”
—Samantha Schoech, San Francisco Chronicle
“The greatest joy in [Cloud Cuckoo Land] comes from watching the pieces snap into place. It is an epic of the quietest kind, whispering across 600 years in a voice no louder than a librarian's.”
—Jason Sheehan, NPR.org
“A seamless tapestry . . . . Ultimately, Doerr seeks to remind us of the many ways we are tied to the natural world.”
—Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times
“A trip well worth taking with the inimitable Doerr.”
—Rob Merrill, Associated Press
“Packed with lush details and a gripping narrative.”
—Keziah Weir, Vanity Fair
“Cloud Cuckoo Land is bound to leave as indelible a mark on readers as All the Light We Cannot See.”
—Alessia Santoro, PopSugar
“Doerr’s creation lifts off quickly, soars, and then, like the various wildfowl wheeling through the story, lands with practiced finesse. . . . Fueled by deep imagination and insistent compassion, Doerr weaves together his storylines with brisk pacing that never feels rushed.”
—Erin Douglass, Christian Science Monitor
“The novel is a celebration of the way in which books enable us to connect with the past – and a warning about how fragile their survival has always been in a world in which those in power pursue war or harm the environment.”
—Jake Kerridge, The Daily Express
“This engagingly written, big-hearted book is a must-read – immersive popular fiction that breaks boundaries and makes you look at the world a bit differently.”
—Jake Kerridge, The Daily Mirror
“A paean to stories as a source of sustenance and solace, and to the sweetness of our shared terrestrial home, Doerr’s narrative is buoyant with humanity and its author’s palpable pleasure in invention.”
—Stephanie Cross, The Daily Mail
“Cloud Cuckoo Land is an impressive achievement and a joy to read. Serious novels are rarely this fun. In a world where nature and stories are more precious than ever, this fine book is an education, a comfort, and inspiration.”
—Melissa Katsoulis, The Times (UK)
“There is a kind of book a seasoned writer produces after a big success: large-hearted, wide in scope and joyous. Following his Pulitzer winner All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr’s Cloud Cuckoo Land is a deep lungful of fresh air–and a gift of a novel.”
—Elizabeth Knox, The Guardian
“In a big fiction year . . . Cloud Cuckoo Land stands out. . . . Doerr’s characters are astoundingly resilient, suggesting that we may yet save ourselves, with literature an essential tool.”
—Hamilton Cain, Boston Globe
“A magical (and hopeful) tale of humanity.”
“Ambitious and complex . . . . [Doerr] weaves it all together beautifully.”
—Angela Haupt, Washington Post
“A tour de force of a novel . . . recalling Jorge Luis Borges, Umberto Eco, and Ursula K. LeGuin. . . . A literary salon to which all manner of storytellers and readers are invited.”
—Jenny McPhee, AirMail Weekly
“For his next act, Anthony Doerr wrote a book about everything.”
—New York Times
“Epic and profound.”
—Claire Martin, People Magazine
“Stunning . . . deeply imagined . . . a novel about how people find hope in the midst of chaos and fear, and how books themselves might be the best things humans have ever done.”
—Samantha Schoech, San Francisco Chronicle
“As intimate as a bedtime story, a love letter to libraries and bibliophiles.”
“Anthony Doerr’s talent for deftly weaving the criss-crossed stories of adults and children will tug at your heartstrings and remind you of the power of resilience and hope.”
—Ashley Leath, Country Living
“A dazzling epic of love, war, and the joy of books.”
“A sweeping epic.”
—K.W. Colyard, Bustle
“[An] ambitious, genre-busting novel.”
—Sarah McCraw Crow, BookPage (starred review)
“A novel of epic stature and ambition.”
—Emerson Malone, Buzzfeed
“[In Cloud Cuckoo Land, Anthony Doerr] takes his talents to the epic.”
—Seija Rankin, Entertainment Weekly
“Worth the seven-year wait. . . . Will leave you in awe.”
—Tierney Bricker, EOnline
"I don't have much in the way of life advice to offer anyone, but I'd say that when you have a chance to read a book that's supposed to weave together stories from the 1453 siege of Constantinople, an elementary school play targeted by teenage ecoterrorists, and a 14-year-old girl aboard a generation ship headed for a new Earth, all revolving around a long-lost book from ancient Greece and the stories it contains, you put that right on top of your 'To Be Read' pile immediately. The fact that it's coming from Anthony Doerr, who won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction? That's just gravy."
—Jason Sheehan, NPR.org
“[An] imaginative, time-bending tale.”
—Lesley Kennedy, CNN.com
“Sweeping and atmospheric.”
“A poignant story told with heart and wit, . . . [with] short, lively chapters [that] move at a lively clip.”
—Kristyn Kusek Lewis, Real Simple
“[A] sweeping literary fiction novel exploring past, present, and future through the lives of young people on the cusp of adulthood. . . . This is a novel unlike any other.”
—Rachel Brittain, BookRiot
“[An] intricately braided story . . . [and] a stunning, mind-bending tale of survival and how closely we’re all connected.”
—Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping
“[Cloud Cuckoo Land] is as extreme a departure as they come, but so original you won’t care.”
—Los Angeles Times
"A welcome read that is a celebration of both resilience and hope told from the perspective of children set worlds (and times) apart. An unforgettable epic from a master storyteller at the top of his craft."
“Doerr’s first book since his Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See and even grander in conception and delivery . . . . [Cloud Cuckoo Land] is a glorious golden mesh of stories that limns the transformative power of literature and our need to both dream big and arrive back home in a world that will eventually flow on without us. Highly recommended.”
—Library Journal, starred review
"Doerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space ... This is just one of the many narrative miracles worked by the author as he brings a first-century story to its conclusion in 2146. As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world."
—Kirkus, starred review
"Doerr demonstrates a singular gift for bringing these complex, fully realized characters to empathetic life in this brilliantly imagined story, which moves backward and forward in time ... One of the joys of reading Cloud Cuckoo Land is discovering the threads that link the five characters’ lives, which ultimately cohere in ways that are simply unforgettable, as is this amazing gift of a novel."
—Booklist, starred review
“Doerr returns with a deeply affecting epic. . . . [Cloud Cuckoo Land] is a marvel.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred revie
- Publisher : Scribner; First Edition/First Printing (September 28, 2021)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 640 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1982168439
- ISBN-13 : 978-1982168438
- Item Weight : 2.02 pounds
- Dimensions : 6 x 1.7 x 9 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #33 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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Top reviews from the United States
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How much should I write? There is a magic in discovering it for yourself, how all these pieces fit together to answer the most essential question we are all facing in 2021: is the world ending? And if so, how do we go on?
Anthony Doerr addresses this question in no expected ways: by telling the story of Anna, an orphan living behind the walls of Constantinople under siege in 1409, who climbs a rock wall to discover hidden treasures; Omeir, a "demon" boy with a cleft palate, who is conscripted into the invading army because of the strength of his beloved oxen Tree and Moonlight; the story of Seymour in Idaho 2020, a budding environmental terrorist after the loss of his beloved great owl friend; and of Zeno, an 86 year old man hiding in the library as Seymour plants his bomb; and of Konstance, on a space station hundreds of years after the end of Earth, hurtling towards a planet that she will never live to see.
And interwoven among them all, a myth of Aegon, the shepherd who longs for a better world, who sets off to find that elusive Eden in the sky, Cloud Cuckoo Land.
It reads like three stories in one; the story of Constantinople, Omeir and Anna; of Idaho, Zeno and Seymour, and of the space station, with Konstance; and amidst them all, the myth of Aegon.
There is writing so gorgeous that I had to stop and read it again; writing, especially, about the power of story itself, how stories can be magic, can save our lives, can give our lives meaning.
Above all else, this is a story about our longing for a better world, what we owe to each other in this one, and whether it is possible -- even a little bit possible --- to hope, in the face of unimaginable hardship, that a better world might still exist, maybe even, possibly, not so far away as Cloud Cuckoo Land, not so far away as the clouds in the sky.
Right from the start the book jumps around to different times and places, introducing you to the main characters. It may be a little challenging to keep up with each of the different groups of characters at first, but stick with it (and take notes if you need to), because things become easier to follow as the book goes on. It becomes clear that the common thread here is that all of the characters have become enthralled with the story of Aethon, a tale written down by an ancient Greek author named Diogenes. Diogenes had himself found the story written down on tablets in a mysterious tomb, and it tells of a man that wished that he could be transformed into a bird in order to reach a mystical utopian city in the sky.
Most of the action in the story takes place in three different time periods: the siege of Constantinople in 1453, a library in Idaho in the present day, and aboard an interstellar ship in the future. Doerr jumps back and forth, describing the conflicts and difficult situations that these characters face, while slowly fleshing out the similarities and describing how Aethon's story affects each of them.
This is a fairly long book and it took a while to finish, but the pacing was so good that it never really felt boring. I was slightly more invested in the story of Konstance and her futuristic journey than the other characters, but there was enough action and character development that kept me interested throughout the book. The author makes some great points in this book, and connects everything together in a very clever and well written story. I also like how the stories were wrapped up, although the way Konstance's part is concluded was a little less satisfying than the others for me.
Overall, I enjoyed the book, and I feel like it is somewhat of a love letter to writers, readers, and librarians; and a excellent story about the power of stories. We all might be more similar than we think after all.
Top reviews from other countries
I have always struggled with the question - Who would be your ideal dinner guests? This guy, the fella that writes this stuff. He is the first person on my list.
I often dislike books with multiple stories that are loosely connected, but this author stitches the different narratives together so cleverly, with such an unpretentious love of story. Wow.