Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel (Paperback)
Anthony Doerr intricately weaves together three story lines, scattered throughout time, in a brilliant tapestry of wonder. What holds this all together is an ancient Greek text that should’ve been lost to time. As we bob in and out of the different characters’ stories, we see how the text moves and influences their decisions and actions. We see the power of a written text and how people will devote resources and lives to the discovery and protection of the written word. There is so much to talk about in this book; please read it so I can discuss it with you. An amazing, epic novel!— Jason Kennedy
An ancient Greek text ties together three stories in this long-awaited follow-up to All the Light We Cannot See. Whether he is writing about the Siege of Constantinople, a small-town Idaho library under attack, or a rocket’s worth of humanity trying to escape Earth’s devastation, Anthony Doerr has a way with compelling characters and a story that is both beautifully written and compulsively readable through its short chapters bursting with tension. Together, Cloud Cuckoo Land becomes a triumphant ode to storytelling and a heartfelt celebration of libraries.— Daniel Goldin
Readers will carry Doerr’s latest story in their thoughts as they go about their day, checking watches or phones, waiting for the minute they can return to his world and his characters. The book is a breathtaking tribute to the art and power of storytelling and a reminder of the wondrous places libraries are to those of us who love them. An ancient Greek manuscript is at the center of the story, and its passage through time connects children (and the adults they become). Anna, in 1453, is a clumsy seamstress by day and a stealthy thief by night. She unearths the manuscript, and the story within, and goes on to protect it with her life during the siege of Constantinople. On a snowy night in Idaho, centuries later, a small library hosting a play based on the manuscript becomes the accidental stage for a teenager’s burst of righteous anger. And generations into the future, after humans have managed to ravage our home planet, a spaceship carrying our hope for survival as a species speeds through space. Onboard is fourteen-year-old Konstance, whose fascinating use of the latest library technology binds all the stories together. Cloud Cuckoo Land dances between emotionally wrenching and simply beautiful, and I was left in awe of Anthony Doerr, storyteller.— Jenny Chou
These characters are beautiful outcasts, different in ways too clear to miss, ways that push them out. They're beautiful for how they fight to keep what’s best about the Earth, and life, in spite of the most painful circumstances. They focus on the people, objects, natural places, and stories that stand side by side with the indignities of humanity. In the brutal siege of 15th century Constantinople, in a beloved and threatened 20th century Idaho forest, in a harsh Chinese prisoner of war camp, and in the containment of a ship blazing through future space, they dream of possibilities. From the opening it seems the time to save a healthy Earth has past. This is the story of saving an ancient piece of tattered writing, an ancient story rescued from the decay of time by these outcasts, as they fight for hope. Doerr's extraordinary details of living in these places make the characters all the more real as he makes a dramatic case that saving stories may indeed have the power to save us as well.— Tim McCarthy
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
On the New York Times bestseller list for over 20 weeks * A New York Times Notable Book * A National Book Award Finalist * Named a Best Book of the Year by Fresh Air, Time, Entertainment Weekly, Associated Press, and many more
“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.
About the Author
Anthony Doerr is the author of the New York Times bestselling Cloud Cuckoo Land, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, and 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.
Praise for Anthony Doerr and Cloud Cuckoo Land
*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