Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel (Paperback)
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
Author of Pulitzer Prize Awarded “All the Light We Cannot See”, Anthony Doerr's writing skills shine brightly in this mind-boggling novel that is utterly unique to his other writings. Is it historical fiction, fantasy, suspense, or science fiction? In fact, it's all of them! The story follows five children on the brink of becoming adults, during three different timeframes in which the reader travels from ancient history and mythology to modern times and far into the future. Built around an ancient Greek text that each child encounters in their journeys, the reader is as curious as the children are in seeking an interpretation of the text's story of Aethon. who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky, Doerr brilliantly ties everyone and everything together, concluding this epic story with a sigh of relief and a perfect ending. Dedicated to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come,” get ready for a rare novel about the meaning and preservation of the ancient text's message that is tied to the preservation of humanity and Mother Earth.— From Vicki (2022-2023)
“If you’re looking for a superb novel, look no further.” —The Washington Post
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of All the Light We Cannot See, comes the instant New York Times bestseller that is a “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).
Among the most celebrated and beloved novels of recent times, Cloud Cuckoo Land 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 the 15th century, an orphan named Anna lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople. She learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds what might be the last copy of a centuries-old 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. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the army that will lay siege to the city. His path and Anna’s will cross.
In the present day, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno rehearses 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.
Anna, Omeir, Seymour, Zeno, and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders whose lives are gloriously intertwined. Doerr’s dazzling imagination transports us to worlds so dramatic and immersive that we forget, for a time, our own.
*WINNER OF THE READING THE WEST BOOK AWARD AND THE OHIOANA BOOK AWARD*
“Sweeping and atmospheric.”
“A magical (and hopeful) tale of humanity.”
“As intimate as a bedtime story, a love letter to libraries and bibliophiles.”
“A dazzling epic of love, war, and the joy of books.”
“A novel of epic stature and ambition.”
“[An] intricately braided story . . . [and] a stunning, mind-bending tale of survival and how closely we’re all connected.”
"Doerr works literary magic to tell three cleverly entwined stories set centuries apart, celebrating children, and the natural world, and always, especially, libraries. We'll be talking about this one for a long time."
—St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Packed with lush details and a gripping narrative.”
—Keziah Weir, Vanity Fair
“A trip well worth taking with the inimitable Doerr.”
—Rob Merrill, Associated Press
“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
“Readers will come away from it with a greater appreciation for those invisible qualities that have bound human life across the ages—the love of a good story and the joy of returning home.”
—Samantha Spengler, Wired
“There’s no book like Cloud Cuckoo Land… the story is mesmerizing, and the carefully-crafted tapestry of themes pulls characters and time periods together into an incandescent whole—tempting the reader to start over as soon as the book is finished.”
—Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Forbes
"Doerr's prose casts a spell; his world-building is both defiant and tender, a virtuosic meditation on the alchemy of books. Come for the magician's tricks, stay for the exquisite storytelling."
—Hamilton Cain, Star Tribune
“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
“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
“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