From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See. A novel set in Constantinople in the fifteenth century, in a small town in present-day Idaho, and on an interstellar ship decades from now. Anna, Omeir, Seymour, Zeno, and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders who find resourcefulness and hope in the midst of gravest danger.
Cloud Cuckoo Land, [Doerr's] erudite, exuberant new work, taps all his gifts while moving in a bold, fresh direction. If All the Light We Cannot See was a lyrical tour de force, Cloud Cuckoo Land is a David Mitchell-esque maze of interlocking stories and characters in three different timestreams, past, present, and future. Doerr’s reach is galactic, but there’s also a surprising intimacy here, as the elements orbit around a Greek text that has all but vanished ... In a big fiction year — and make no mistake, 2021 has been epic — Cloud Cuckoo Land stands out. The trope of the child in jeopardy is hardly original, but Doerr digs deep ... Doerr guides us through lavish backstories and broken hearts, war and peace, each chapter a masterstroke ... Layer by layer, Doerr builds a cathedral of a novel, rich with naves and transepts and soaring stained-glass windows, and yet he keeps us close to the pages, turning and turning. An intricate design emerges: Doerr’s a soothsayer obsessed with our survival, fearing the worst ... a profound compassion undergirds the novel as the pieces snap into place ... Doerr’s characters are astoundingly resilient, suggesting that we may yet save ourselves, with literature an essential tool. Their journeys leave footprints across our hearts ... With its breathtaking ambition and beautiful prose Cloud Cuckoo Land is the anti-Twitter novel we need, unabashedly celebrating the power of books and their caretakers.
... a paean to the nameless people who have played a role in the transmission of ancient texts and preserved the tales they tell. But it’s also about the consolations of stories and the balm they have provided for millenniums. It’s a wildly inventive novel that teems with life, straddles an enormous range of experience and learning, and embodies the storytelling gifts that it celebrates. It also pulls off a resolution that feels both surprising and inevitable, and that compels you back to the opening of the book with a head-shake of admiration at the Swiss-watchery of its construction ... What can possibly connect such an odd bunch of people? One minute we’re haggling with Venetian book collectors in a besieged city, the next, a single mother in Idaho is struggling to pay her bills, or someone in a hermetically sealed spaceship is wondering how a beetle got in there. It’s an amazing feat that drawing from such disparate story lines, Doerr manages to keep the book compelling, coherent and moving ... To begin with, you have to take it on trust that all these elements somehow form part of a whole. Then bit by bit, the nature of the connections between each story comes tantalizingly into focus ... Doerr’s storytelling is bracing and energetic. His characters are engaging and, as readers of All the Light We Cannot See will recall, he’s nailed a particular style of rhythmic incantatory prose that uses crunchy present-tense verbs and vivid detail to grip the reader’s attention ... Above all, Doerr understands the pulse of changing fortune, the switches of destiny from good to bad and back again that have been the heartbeat of great storytelling since Gilgamesh and the Popol Vuh ... Although Cloud Cuckoo Land is a thoughtful, learned book, it’s also accessible. This feels like both an aesthetic choice and — in the broadest sense — a political one ... In fact, Doerr’s is much more than a mechanistic or childish device for passing time. It’s a humane and uplifting book for adults that’s infused with the magic of childhood reading experiences.
Doerr does amazing things with his story, with this narrative spread unevenly across such disparate characters, such different voices. He makes links that persist across centuries, flits from place to place and person to person with an enviable grace, making seemingly impossible logical and temporal leaps seem as natural as breath. Between the covers, across hundreds of pages, he has everything — birth and death, love and war, heists, escapes, the particular (though not unique) perils of growing up in 1453, 1940, 2020 and 2146. He breaks the story into a thousand pieces, then spends every page carefully putting it all back in order again ... Doerr does not overstate the importance of the story-within-a-story. If anything, he makes a point of reminding us again and again how easy it is for books to be lost across the ages ... The book is a puzzle. The greatest joy in it 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. It is a book about books, a story about stories. It is tragedy and comedy and myth and fable and a warning and a comfort all at the same time. It says, Life is hard. Everyone believes the world is ending all the time. But so far, all of them have been wrong ... It says that if stories can survive, maybe we can, too.