Anthony Doerr’s Cosmic Odyssey

Posted Sep 12, 2022, 5:00 PMUpdated on Sep 12, 2022 at 6:42 PM

The “San Francisco Chronicle” sums up Anthony Doerr’s mad enterprise well: “’The City of Clouds and Birds’ is unlike any book you’ve read. » American writer, Pulitzer Prize 2015 with “All the Light We Cannot See”, stirs up ancient Greek myths and the anger of the present time, makes us zigzag in space and time, to exalt the saving power of literature. Both erudite and entertaining, his novel-river with multiple tributaries never leaves the reader stranded.

For some 700 pages, it takes us on a journey from antiquity to the year 2146, in the footsteps of a mysterious manuscript, a utopian tale signed by the Greek writer Antoine Diogenes, of which only fragments have been preserved. The story mixes burlesque, marvelous and philosophical moral adventures: a young shepherd Atheon, tired of guarding his flock, decides to leave for the celestial city he has seen represented in a play. During his journey, he will be transformed into a donkey, then into a fish, before being transformed into a bird and finally reaching his goal. But when he has experienced the sweetness of the suspended city, then leafed through the book of all knowledge, he will have only one desire: to rediscover the earth, its joys and its torments…

magic of words

The manuscript has come a long way. In Constantinople in the XVe century, it passes from the hands of the young Christian Anna to the brave Muslim peasant Omeir, to end up in the library of Urbino. After its rediscovery in the Vatican archives at the end of the XXe century, it fascinated a Korean War veteran from Idaho, Zeno, who set about translating it before making a play for children. Finally, it will lull the dreams of Konstance, a captive teenager of a spaceship supposed to reach a habitable planet after the self-destruction of the Earth in the XXIIe century.

Anthony Doerr skilfully ties together all of his captivating stories. Each is an odyssey. Combined, they form a stunning fictional cosmos. All the characters, in their own way, are saved by fiction, by the magic of words that open the doors to dreams and hope. Even Seymour, the young American in love with nature who became a terrorist out of hatred for predatory men, will find his redemption in the reading of the famous manuscript.

Doerr, the marvelous writer, draws a line in gold ink between the poetry of Aristophanes, the historical novel, apocalyptic literature and science fiction. A book of all books, his “City of Clouds and Birds” is for lovers of great romantic gestures a gift from heaven and an accomplishment.

City of Clouds and Birds by Anthony Doerr. Albin Michael.DR

The City of Clouds and Birds

American novel

by Anthony Doerr.

Translated by Marina Doraso.

Editions Albin Michel, 694 pages, 24.90 euros.

Released September 15.

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Anthony Doerr’s Cosmic Odyssey