David Mitchell, born in Southport, UK, in 1969. M.A. from the University of Kent, Canterbury. Writer and author of a number of prizewinning novels: Ghostwritten (1999), Number 9 Dream (2001), Cloud Atlas (2004), which was shortlisted for the 2004 Man Booker Prize for Fiction and Black Swan Green (to be published in 2006).
Writer-in-Residence (1 February 2006 – 30 June 2006)
Thanks to my residency, I found modern editions of primary sources which previously I did not know existed. These include Englebert Kaempfer’s authoritative notes on Japan compiled in the 1690s, and SOAS scholar Timon Screech’s annotated editions of Isaac Titsingh’s book and CP Thunberg’s book from the 1770s and 1780s. Leiden scholar Professor Cynthia Viallé introduced me to new volumes of Deshima Dagregisters, and perhaps best of all, Professor Wesseling presented me with a majestic 2-volume publication containing all the secret correspondence and marginalia written during Deshima’s twenty decades of existence. To write my novel without panning these rivers for gold would have been ill-advised: doing so is where most of my weeks at NIAS has gone. I have a new structure and many new voices, and a far deeper understanding of culture (and weather!) in the Netherlands. I am extremely grateful to NIAS and the Dutch Fund for Literature to have made it possible for me to spend five months laying such solid foundations for this book.