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Roxanne Reviews "Cloud Cuckoo Land"

Roxanne reviews Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr

Some books are an amusing distraction, some lyrical dreamworks and some downright instructive and profound. Cloud Cuckoo Land is the latter and by far the most impressive book I’ve read in my life. Anthony Doerr (author of All the Light You Cannot See) has surpassed his previous gem with an epic tale of five characters spanning The Middle Ages, present time, and a futuristic spaceship period.

An ancient text from Diogenes umbrellas the various subplots and shows how the love of literature can save us not only from present day troubles, but also teach us of history we don’t want to repeat. Doerr does more than hint that some of us have survived, and will endure, even the worst of future disasters.

Omeir is a cleft palate child who drives oxen for a power hungry sultan, and on the land the sultan wishes to capture is Anna, an impoverished seamstress desperate to heal her sister’s ailments as well as evolve by learning to read in a pre-printing press world. Zeno is a wayward youth longing to serve in the military as his father did who then becomes mentor to children putting on a Diogenes play in the same library where Seymour, an asperger outcast, feels desperate to make a statement about nature destruction and climate change.

If that sounds complicated, it is! But Doerr pulls off the miracle of weaving his pieces together. Cloud Cuckoo Land is a heady book of great length, but worth denying one’s self all other sources of instant gratification to grasp the importance of our interconnectedness.

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