Reviews for Cloud Cuckoo Land

by Anthony Doerr

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Pulitzer winner Doerr (All the Light We Cannot See) returns with a deeply affecting epic of a long-lost book from ancient Greece. In the mid-22nd century, Konstance, 14, copies an English translation of Cloud Cuckoo Land by Antonius Diogenes with her food printer’s Nourish powder while aboard the Argos, an ark-like spaceship destined for a habitable planet. She found the book in the Argos’s library, and was already familiar with Diogenes’s story of a shepherd named Aethon and his search for a book that told of all the world’s unknown lands, because her father told it to her while they tended the Argos’s farm. Her father’s connection to the Diogenes book is gradually revealed, but first Doerr takes the reader farther back in time. In chapters set in and around Constantinople leading up to the 1453 siege, two 13-year-old children, Anna and Omeir, converge while fleeing the city, and Omeir helps Anna protect a codex of Cloud Cuckoo Land she discovered in a monastery. Then, in 2020 Lakeport, Idaho, translator Zeno Ninis collaborates with a group of young children on a stage production of Cloud Cuckoo Land at the library, where a teenage ecoterrorist has planted a bomb meant to target the neighboring real estate office. Doerr seamlessly shuffles each of these narratives in vignettes that keep the action in full flow and the reader turning the pages. The descriptions of Constantinople, Idaho, and the Argos are each distinct and fully realized, and the protagonists of each are united by a determination to survive and a hunger for stories, which in Doerr’s universe provide the greatest nourishment. This is a marvel. (Sept.)


Library Journal
(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Doerr's first book since his Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light We Cannot See, and even grander in conception and delivery, takes its name from an imagined realm referenced in Aristophanes's play The Birds. In present-day Idaho, Korean War veteran Zeno directs five energetic fifth graders in the production of a play called Cloud Cuckoo Land, which he reconstructed from an ancient Greek novel that he'd translated, even as activist teenager Seymour plans an attack centered on the public library where they rehearse. The play is connected to a young orphan named Anna dwelling in Constantinople as it falls to the Ottomans; a Balkans village boy named Omeir who supports the sultan's attack with his team of oxen; and Konstance, who decades in the future travels on an interstellar spacecraft headed for exoplanet Beta Oph2. Decidedly outsiders and mostly young people (even Zeno's plot is partly backstory of his difficult early years), these characters are deftly maneuvered by the capable Doerr. What results is a glorious golden mesh of stories that limns the transformative power of literature and our need both to dream big and to arrive back home in a world that will eventually flow on without us. VERDICT Highly recommended.—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Doerr, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction for All the Light We Cannot See (2014), returns with this masterful novel that spans centuries as it brilliantly examines the lives of five young people. Though seemingly disparate, their lives prove to have in common the mysterious presence of a comic novel from classical antiquity telling of a simpleminded shepherd, Aethon, who embarks on a quest to find Cloud Cuckoo Land, a fabled city in the clouds. As for the five children, who all come of age over the course of the novel, they are Anna and Omeir, who live in the fifteenth century during the siege of Constantinople; Zeno and Seymour, both outsiders, who live in Lakeport, Idaho, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; and Konstance, who lives aboard an interstellar spaceship sometime in the distant future. 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. Interspersed among the five children’s evolving stories is the saga of Aethon’s quest. 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.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Doerr's many ardent fans cannot wait to immerse themselves in his newest imaginative tale.


Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Doerr, recipient of the Pulitzer Prize and the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction for All the Light We Cannot See (2014), returns with this masterful novel that spans centuries as it brilliantly examines the lives of five young people. Though seemingly disparate, their lives prove to have in common the mysterious presence of a comic novel from classical antiquity telling of a simpleminded shepherd, Aethon, who embarks on a quest to find Cloud Cuckoo Land, a fabled city in the clouds. As for the five children, who all come of age over the course of the novel, they are Anna and Omeir, who live in the fifteenth century during the siege of Constantinople; Zeno and Seymour, both outsiders, who live in Lakeport, Idaho, in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; and Konstance, who lives aboard an interstellar spaceship sometime in the distant future. 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. Interspersed among the five children’s evolving stories is the saga of Aethon’s quest. 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.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Doerr's many ardent fans cannot wait to immerse themselves in his newest imaginative tale.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

An ancient Greek manuscript connects humanity's past, present, and future.Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you wrote Antonius Diogenes at the end of the first century C.E.and millennia later, Pulitzer Prize winner Doerr is his fitting heir. Around Diogenes' manuscript, "Cloud Cuckoo Land"the author did exist, but the text is inventedDoerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space. The protagonist of the original story is Aethon, a shepherd whose dream of escaping to a paradise in the sky leads to a wild series of adventures in the bodies of beast, fish, and fowl. Aethon's story is first found by Anna in 15th-century Constantinople; though a failure as an apprentice seamstress, she's learned ancient Greek from an elderly scholar. Omeir, a country boy of the same period, is rejected by the world for his cleft lipbut forms the deepest of connections with his beautiful oxen, Moonlight and Tree. In the 1950s, Zeno Ninis, a troubled exGI in Lakeport, Idaho, finds peace in working on a translation of Diogenes' recently recovered manuscript. In 2020, 86-year-old Zeno helps a group of youngsters put the story on as a play at the Lakeport Public Libraryunaware that an eco-terrorist is planting a bomb in the building during dress rehearsal. (This happens in the first pages of the book and continues ticking away throughout.) On a spaceship called the Argos bound for Beta Oph2 in Mission Year 65, a teenage girl named Konstance is sequestered in a sealed room with a computer named Sybil. How could she possibly encounter Zeno's translation? 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. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.


Kirkus
Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

An ancient Greek manuscript connects humanity's past, present, and future. “Stranger, whoever you are, open this to learn what will amaze you” wrote Antonius Diogenes at the end of the first century C.E.—and millennia later, Pulitzer Prize winner Doerr is his fitting heir. Around Diogenes' manuscript, "Cloud Cuckoo Land"—the author did exist, but the text is invented—Doerr builds a community of readers and nature lovers that transcends the boundaries of time and space. The protagonist of the original story is Aethon, a shepherd whose dream of escaping to a paradise in the sky leads to a wild series of adventures in the bodies of beast, fish, and fowl. Aethon's story is first found by Anna in 15th-century Constantinople; though a failure as an apprentice seamstress, she's learned ancient Greek from an elderly scholar. Omeir, a country boy of the same period, is rejected by the world for his cleft lip—but forms the deepest of connections with his beautiful oxen, Moonlight and Tree. In the 1950s, Zeno Ninis, a troubled ex–GI in Lakeport, Idaho, finds peace in working on a translation of Diogenes' recently recovered manuscript. In 2020, 86-year-old Zeno helps a group of youngsters put the story on as a play at the Lakeport Public Library—unaware that an eco-terrorist is planting a bomb in the building during dress rehearsal. (This happens in the first pages of the book and continues ticking away throughout.) On a spaceship called the Argos bound for Beta Oph2 in Mission Year 65, a teenage girl named Konstance is sequestered in a sealed room with a computer named Sybil. How could she possibly encounter Zeno's translation? 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. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Back