number9dream by David Mitchell


Eiji Miyake leaves rural Japan and comes to Tokyo to find the father he has never known. He finds a room above a video shop and gets a job in Tokyo subway lost property department. While getting to know the big city he stumbles upon a number of questions he needs to answer. What started as the search for his father turns into the search for Eiji's own identity.

Among the themes Mitchell explores in this novel, I found memories, dreams and the search for meaning the most powerful. Memories are important: individual as well as collective. Memories are what we are made of: »All we are is our memories.« History is also important, since it's our collective memory. It's expressed via the journals Eiji's grandfather writes during the Second World War when he went through a kaiten pilot training. Among other things he writes about the meaning of his life. At first he knows what the meaning of his life is: to defend the Motherland, his country. As time goes by, his certainty isn't as strong as it was at the beginning. The meaning of Eiji's life is to find his father, but what happens after he finds him, he doesn't know. 

The story is leaden with dreams. People dream and they talk about dreams, about dreaming. Dreams are important, we should take care what we dream, because dream s are what we should trust, not reality. And in the end, we get just the nightmare we deserve.

The story is divided into nine chapters. Eight of them are a combination of dreams, fantasies, and memories, there's a story within a story, a film within a story and a war journal. Each chapter seems to be weirder than the one before. Eiji meets all sorts of people, from a musician with a perfect neck he falls in love with to ruthless yakuza men. The ninth chapter consists of blank pages. Number nine is a recurring theme throughout the book. The title of the book is the same as the title of a John Lennon song. In the end, Lennon appears in Eiji's dream to tell him that »the ninth dream begins after every ending.« »Number 9 is beyond the grasp of ordinary mortals« says somebody else about something else, but it clicks into place as we get to the final chapter.

I read this book because I listened to Liv on booktube talk about it being similar to Haruki Murakami's novels. People usually compare it to Norwegian Wood, but I haven't read it yet, so I can't really say. However, I found similarities to The Wind-up Bird Chronicle I wrote about in the beginning of the week. Both novels are full of dreams, stories within a story, memories from the war, musical and literary references. Mitchell even mentions Eiji reading a book about a man sitting at the bottom of the well. Oh, and there is a cat. Toru form the Wind-up Bird loses a cat, while Eiji gets it. Nevertheless number9dream has got its own individuality and I'm looking forward to reading more books by this author. Not because of the parallels with Haruki Murakami, but because David Mitchell wrote them.

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Eiji Miyake iz japonskega podeželja pride v Tokio, da bi našel očeta, ki ga nikoli ni poznal. Najde sobo nad videoteko in službo v oddelku za izgubljene predmete v Tokijski podzemni železnici. Medtem ko raziskuje velemesto, naleti na števila vprašanja, na katera mora odgovoriti. Kar se je začelo kot iskanje očeta, se za Eijija sprevrže v iskanje lastne identitete.

Med različnimi temami, ki se pojavljajo v knjigi, so zame najbolj izstopali spomini, sanje in iskanje smisla. Spomini so pomembni, tako individualni kot tudi kolektivni. Ljudje smo zgrajeni iz spominov, vse kar smo, so naši spomni, reče nekdo v knjigi. Zgodovina je ravno tako pomembna, saj je kolektivni spomin. V romanu nastopa kot vojni dnevnik Eijijevega deda, napisan med drugo svetovno vojno, ko se je ded udeležil usposabljanja za kaiten pilota (kaiten je človeško vodeni torpedo, kar je kamikaza za letala, je kaiten za podmornice). Med drugim piše v dnevniku o smislu življenja, ki je zanj braniti domovino, vendar sčasoma ni več tako prepričan v to. Smisel Eijijevega življenja je, da najde očeta, vendar se tudi sam začne spraševati kaj se bo zgodilo potem, ko ga najde. 

Zgodba je polna sanj. Ljudje sanjajo, govorijo o sanjah, o sanjanju. Sanje so pomembne, moralo bi nam biti mar kaj sanjamo, saj bi morali zaupati sanjam in ne resničnost. Na koncu pa tako vsak od nas dobi moro, ki si jo zasluži. 

Roman je razdeljena na devet poglavij. Osem je polnih sanj, fantazij, spominov, zgodb v zgodbi, filma v zgodbi in vojnega dnevnika. Vsako poglavje se zdi bolj čudaško od prejšnjega. Eiji sreča zelo različne ljudi, od glasbenice s popolnim vratom, v katero se zaljubi, do neusmiljenih yakuza kriminalcev. Deveto poglavje sestavljajo prazni listi. Številka devet je rdeča nit. Naslov knjige Sanje številka 9, je isti kot naslov pesmi Johna Lennona. Lennon sam se Eijiju pojavi v sanjah in mu pove, da devete sanje pridejo po vsakem koncu. Nekdo drug v zgodbi reče, da je števila devet onkraj dosega navadnega smrtnika. Govori sicer o popolnoma drugi stvari, vendar stavek pade na svoje mesto, ko pridemo do zadnjega poglavja.

Te knjige sem se lotila potem, ko sem poslušala Liv na booktubu govoriti o tem, da je podobna romanom Harukija Murakamija. Ljudje Sanje številka 9 po navadi primerjajo z Norveškim gozdom, vendar ker slednjega še nisem prebrala, ne morem govoriti o tem. Sem pa našla številne vzporednice s Kroniko ptiča navijalca, o kateri sem pisala v začetku tega tedna. Oba romana sta polna sanj, zgodb v zgodbi, vojnih spominov in glasbenih ter literarnih referenc. Mitchell celo omeni, da Eiji bere knjigo o človeku, ki sedi na dnu vodnjaka. Pa še maček se pojavi. Toru iz Kronike izgubi mačka, medtem, ko ga Eiji dobi. Ne glede na to ima Mitchellova knjiga svojo individualnost, tako da se veselim branja njegovih drugih knjig. Ne zaradi primerjav z Murakamijem, ampak zato, ker jih je napisal David Mitchell.


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