Cloud Cuckoo Land
By: Anthony Doerr
Publication Date: 09/21/21
My Rating: TBR (ARC)
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 a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring novel about children on the cusp of adulthood in a broken world, who find resilience, hope, and story.
The heroes of Cloud Cuckoo Land are trying to figure out the world around them: Anna and Omeir, on opposite sides of the formidable city walls during the 1453 siege of Constantinople; teenage idealist Seymour in an attack on a public library in present day Idaho; and Konstance, on an interstellar ship bound for an exoplanet, decades from now. Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All the Light We Cannot See, Anna, Omeir, Seymour, and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders who find resourcefulness and hope in the midst of peril.
An ancient text—the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky—provides solace and mystery to these unforgettable characters. Doerr has created a tapestry of times and places that reflects our vast interconnectedness—with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us and those who will be here after we’re gone.
Dedicated to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come,” Cloud Cuckoo Land is a hauntingly beautiful and redemptive novel about stewardship—of the book, of the Earth, of the human heart.
“Doerr’s first book since his Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See and even grander in conception and delivery . . . . [Cloud Cuckoo Land] is a glorious golden mesh of stories that limns that the transformative power of literature and our need to both dream big and arrive back home in a world that will eventually flow on without us. Highly recommended.”
—Library Journal, starred review
"Doerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space ... This is just one of the many narrative miracles worked by the author as he brings a first-century story to its conclusion in 2146. As the pieces of this magical literary puzzle snap together, a flicker of hope is sparked for our benighted world."
—Kirkus, starred review
"Doerr demonstrates a singular gift for bringing these complex, fully realized characters to empathetic life in this brilliantly imagined story, which moves backward and forward in time ... One of the joys of reading Cloud Cuckoo Land is discovering the threads that link the five characters’ lives, which ultimately cohere in ways that are simply unforgettable, as is this amazing gift of a novel."
—Booklist, starred review
“Doerr returns with a deeply affecting epic. . . . [Cloud Cuckoo Land] is a marvel.”
—Publishers Weekly, starred review
“This is a glory of a book. As its cast of characters moves us across continents and ages from ancient Greece to the present and beyond, we fall in love with the best of them—and the worst. Cloud Cuckoo Land is impossible to put down and once finished, life-changing, the kind of book you hope will come your way but almost never does. An absolute masterpiece.”
—Betsy Burton, The King’s English Bookshop
“In Cloud Cuckoo Land, Anthony Doerr lovingly, creatively, and intelligently illustrates the ways in which humanity is both divided and united, defeated and driven by our imaginations, by our capacity for self-deception, by the power of story, the ways in which hope and despair are inextricably intertwined. He portrays our commonalities, not the least of which is the planet we share. Still his deeply and compassionately drawn characters rise above their considerable symbolic value to demonstrate the importance we each have as unique individuals, whose actions matter, whose lives matter. Doerr reminds us yet again, with urgent relevance, of what we have in each other and our beautiful Earth. Gorgeously written, Cloud Cuckoo Land is rich in metaphor and message, but as befits a novel that inherently celebrates the power of story, it is also simply and delightfully entertaining!”
—Sara Hinckley, Hudson Books
"Wow! seems the word for this latest of Doerr’s novels. It is so unique and creative it is hard to put into words. I fell in love with the individual characters and their life experiences. It is a fabulous read that transports one to different worlds and yet connects in unusual ways. Ya gotta read it!"
—Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette
"If you doubt that Anthony Doerr could reach the same literary heights of All the Light We Cannot See, rest assured that Cloud Cuckoo Land is a work of extraordinary brilliance. Doerr weaves together multiple complicated storylines, characters, and eras in a way that left me awestruck and spellbound. I can safely say 'Future #1 on the Bestseller List.'"
—Pamela Klinger-Horn, Valley Bookseller
“With threads that stretch from the fall of Constantinople to the far distant future, Anthony Doerr weaves a tapestry of wonder. Cloud Cuckoo Land rakes its reader's heart across the coals and drives us on across a beautifully embroidered plot so we might pay homage to the miracle of knowledge, of kindness, passed from one soul to another across centuries, a neckless of small lights in a sea of night.”
—Ben Kemper, Rediscovered Bookshop
“And this is why we read! I should just stop there—I haven’t felt this hopeful and alive after closing a book in a very long time. What does it mean to be alive? An ageless question, and throughout time the answer is always human connection and the stories we tell to live—thrive—survive. This book is a marvel and Anthony Doerr is simply a genius.”
—Julie Slavinsky, Warwicks
“I absolutely loved Cloud Cuckoo Land. Doerr brings together multiple stories all connected by a manuscript by the ancient Greek author Diogenes. From the young girl in 1500 Istanbul who finds the original manuscript to the ex-GI in present-day Idaho who devotes his life to translating the text, to the girl in a future time, discovering it while aboard a vessel heading toward a new planet after her own planet has been degraded, these stories coalesce to show how a story can have the power through time. A very entertaining and powerful book indeed.”
—Mark LaFramboise, Politics and Prose
“One of the markers of a great book is that it is transformative, and I can think of no better way to describe Cloud Cuckoo Land than to say it is a transformative reading experience. Epic in scope, it is the perfect book to remind us about the way storytelling is a key component to our shared human experience and uplifts our lives. Cloud Cuckoo Land is moving, it is adventurous, it is enlightening and just plain fun. This book truly has it all.”
—Casey Protti, Bookshop Santa Cruz
“Is it possible that Anthony Doerr has surpassed the brilliance of All the Light We Cannot See? Cloud Cuckoo Land is an absolute marvel. Five sets of characters spin through three distinct time periods. An ancient folktale and a timeworn manuscript are woven gracefully throughout each story, binding them, and us, with ageless messages of hope and appreciation for love, endurance, home, books, and our planet.”
—Gillian Kohli, Wellesley Books
“I savored the language and imagery of Cloud Cuckoo Land well before appreciating the aha moments of connectedness in the story threads. Reminiscent of the dear characters from All the Light We Cannot See, Konstance and Anna, Zeno and Seymour, and sweet Omeir captured my heart. What a magical book this is.”
—Cheryl McKeon, Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza in Albany
“Cloud Cuckoo Land is ambitious, audacious, and a work of absolute artistry. Doerr somehow blends a multitude of eras and genres in a manner that is breathtaking and in the end creates a work of mythology of his own. It is books like this that make our business such a joy. We all read many books, but then something like Cloud comes along and we experience the same epiphany as Zeno realizing we have reached the culmination and completion of a quest.”
—Bill Cusumano, Square Books
“As a seasoned reader, you are so grateful if once or twice a year a book falls into your lap that not only takes you away from the world but when you return your mind is filled with images, ideas, and a story that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Cloud Cuckoo Land is fully in that category. The intertwined stories from multiple time periods are bound together by the telling and retelling of a beautifully rendered ancient Greek text that I was certain was written by Diogenes but doesn’t exist outside of this novel. That story, pieced together from fragments, becomes the chorus in this novel and adds depth, nuance, and an understanding of not only the story but also those who are listening to it.”
—Gayle Shanks, Changing Hands Bookstore
“Words cannot begin to do justice to this novel. I feel overwhelmed by the brilliance of Anthony Doerr’s writing. A master’s writing course could be taught around what is inside this brilliant novel. Cloud Cuckoo Land is a bookseller’s dream come true.”
—Mary O’Malley, Skylark Books
“Cloud Cuckoo Land is a magnificent novel about the power of the written word. Its characters have a hunger for knowledge and stories that take us to unknown lands. All the storylines pull together perfectly to create a masterpiece. Anthony Doerr has kept the voice that millions of readers fell in love with All the Light We Cannot See—and has created a completely different, and astoundingly, even more beautiful story.”
—Kristen Beverly, Half Price Books
“The characters are so well done—I was there with Anna! At first, I didn’t understand the different stories but I told myself, Tony will make this work. There is a common thread. As the story unfolds I fell in love with all of the characters. Maybe Konstance is my favorite. Or Bunny—she was so patient with Seymour.”
—Valerie Koehler, owner/girlboss of Blue Willow Bookshop
“Page after page, I kept telling myself ‘just one more section’ as I was drawn deeper and deeper into this well-crafted ‘maze’ that spans time, place, and people in a way that made time pass in a heartbeat. This book is a wonder and one that I cannot wait to share with readers.”
—Rebecca Leber-Gottberg, events coordinator at Rediscovered Books
“I have been on such a magnificent journey with Cloud Cuckoo Land. What a sweeping epic. I loved it madly. Anthony Doerr’s vision and the tender attention to the smallest details show the hand of a master at work. This novel explores story itself. The reader feels engaged and fascinated while being transported to a deeper awareness of our place and role on this planet. Cloud Cuckoo Land is storytelling at its finest. Wow, Wow, Wow.”
—Sheryl Cotleur, Copperfield’s Books
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. Website