I read a really interesting book club on R4 with David Mitchell about Cloud Atlas. Do I start there or read Ghostwritten first? Which is best? I've noticed his new one too. Decisions, I turn to you! Thanks
Definitely read Cloud Atlas. His recent book The Bone Clocks is bizarrely similar to Cloud Atlas (in its format, in its themes, in its overall message) but has nowhere near its impact and all-around awesomeness.
Yes, Cloud Atlas first, then Ghostwritten if you like that. Jacob de Zoet is more of a traditional historical novel, and Black Swan Green (the only one of his I don't much care for) is a surprisingly traditional novel of adolescence. I began The Bone Clocks, put it down somewhere in my messy house full of books, and now can't find it.
Clouds Atlas is his best, IMHO, although all are good.
Many of his books are complex stories with several heroes and settings.
However Black Swan Green is a (semi autobiographical) novel about a sensitive, poetic boy growing up in a tough Midlands town in the 80s. It is superb; and so contained for David Mitchell. I read one review which said "Its like finding out Jackson Pollock can do a very good miniature portrait of his mother"!
I struggled with cloud atlas at first until I did something terrible - I skipped a bit. As you probably know even if you haven't read it, the structure is nested narratives where each section is a story or account which is encountered by characters in the next section. I found the initial section much less readable than the rest of the book so I skipped it and restarted at chapter 2. Read and loved the rest of the book and was then able to go back and enjoy/appreciate the beginning properly.