Number 9 Dream is the second novel from David Mitchell, he of Cloud Atlas fame. He spent a few years travelling around Japan before he became a published writer, and you can see he got a lot of his inspiration from his time in the country.
Number 9 Dream is a fairly trippy story set in Tokyo and follows twenty-year-old Eiji Miyake as he tries to hunt down the father who abandoned him and his family. What starts off as a simple story about an attempt to reunite a father and son turns into a mad and dangerous adventure around the back streets of Tokyo, involving criminal gangs, video game arcades and love hotels. If you’re a fan of dark and weird novels like In the Miso Soup, you’ll love Number 9 Dream.
It’s not always entirely clear what’s happening in this book and whether the narrator is simply imagining things. At the beginning of the book, the reader is shown several different scenarios while Eiji is sitting inside a cafe opposite the office where he believes his father is – including an elaborate disguise as an exotic fish specialist and a biblical flood. ‘Trippy’ is the word for Number 9 Dream.
As well as a weird and disjointed storyline, the characters are colourful and bizarre. Eiji is a seemingly normal young man who just gets caught up in a series of crazy events; rogue videogame parlour local Daimon, sultry love hotel girls Coffee and Velvet and, of course, Eiji’s elusive father – who we can only guess about.
Number 9 Dream was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2001, and it’s not the only one of David Mitchell’s book to make it on that list. It’s a great stocking filler for bookies, so of course it’s December’s Book of the Month. You can also check out my review of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, another one of Mitchell’s novels.