October 2021 Indie Next List
“I haven’t felt this hopeful after closing a book in a very long time. What does it mean to be alive? An ageless question, yet throughout time the answer is always human connection and the stories we tell to live, thrive, survive.”
— Julie Slavinsky, Warwick's, La Jolla, CA
A New York Times Notable Book
“If you’re looking for a superb novel, look no further.” —The Washington Post
The instant New York Times bestseller and finalist for the 2021 National Book Award is “wildly inventive, a humane and uplifting book for adults that’s infused with the magic of childhood reading experiences” (The New York Times Book Review).
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 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.
From the National Book Award finalist citation:
“From the 15th century to the future, the five protagonists in Anthony Doerr’s brilliant Cloud Cuckoo Land come together astonishingly in the stories they make of their lives, rewritten by time and circumstance. This marvelous book is like an astrolabe or an armillary sphere; a navigation instrument engineered to discover the world. Urgent, rife with relevance and compassion, Doerr’s novel affirms the necessity of the made thing, the capacious imagination, and storytelling.”
About the Author
Anthony Doerr is the author of All the Light We Cannot See, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Carnegie Medal, the Alex Award, and a #1 New York Times bestseller. He is also the author of the story collections Memory Wall and The Shell Collector, the novel About Grace, and the memoir Four Seasons in Rome. He has won five O. Henry Prizes, the Rome Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award, the National Magazine Award for fiction, a Guggenheim Fellowship, and the Story Prize. Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Doerr lives in Boise, Idaho, with his wife and two sons.
Simon Jones Broadway credits include: The Real Thing, Benefactors, The School for Scandal, The Herbal Bed, and Waiting in the Wings (Outer Critics Circle nominee). Off-Broadway credits include: Woman in Mind, Terra Nova, Privates On Parade (Drama Desk nominee). Film and TV highlights: Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Brazil, Twelve Monkeys, The Devil's Own, Brideshead Revisited, PBS's Liberty and HBO's Oz.
"Marin Ireland and Simon Jones sparkle as they narrate this immersive time-traveling novel. They vividly deliver the stories that weave through this audiobook. A gifted mimic, Ireland performs subtle and effective emulations of Australian, Italian, and English accents. When she slows down to enunciate the classical Greek sprinkled throughout the text, her reading shimmers with meaning. Both Ireland and Jones are masters of pacing and cadence, which matters in an interwoven narrative that shifts in time from the fall of Constantinople (1450s) to present-day small-town Idaho and to a future set on a spacecraft. From accounts of myths to misbegotten environmental terrorism, Doerr's novel pulls out all the stops, and the narrators create an enduring listening experience."
— AudioFile Magazine