David Mitchell announces Utopia Avenue, his first novel in five years

Due out next summer, the novel will explore the power of music, following the career of the eponymous psychedelic band

Cloud Atlas author David Mitchell is to tackle the story of “the strangest British band you’ve never heard of” in his first novel for five years, Utopia Avenue.

Announcing the book, which will be released next June, Mitchell quoted the maxim that “writing about music is like dancing about architecture”, saying that Utopia Avenue stemmed from it.

“Songs (mostly) use language, but music plugs directly into something below or above language. Can a novel made of words (and not fitted with built-in speakers or Bluetooth) explore the wordless mysteries of music, and music’s impact on people and the world? How?” Mitchell asked. “Is it possible to dance about architecture after all? Utopia Avenue is my rather hefty stab at an answer.”

Utopia Avenue will tell the “unexpurgated story” of a British band of the same name, who emerged from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967 and was “fronted by folk singer Elf Holloway, guitar demigod Jasper de Zoet and blues bassist Dean Moss”, said publisher Sceptre.

“Utopia Avenue released only two LPs during its brief and blazing journey from the clubs of Soho and draughty ballrooms, to Top of the Pops and the cusp of chart success, to glory in Amsterdam, prison in Rome and a fateful American fortnight in the autumn of 1968,” said the publisher, adding that the book would tell of “riots in the streets and revolutions in the head; of drugs, thugs, madness, love, sex, death, art; of the families we choose and the ones we don’t; of fame’s Faustian pact and stardom’s wobbly ladder”.

The publicity asks: “Can we change the world in turbulent times, or does the world change us? Utopia means ‘nowhere’ but could a shinier world be within grasp, if only we had a map?”

Utopia Avenue follows Slade House (2015) and The Bone Clocks (2014), which was longlisted for the Booker prize. His previous novels include Cloud Atlas – No 9 in the Guardian’s top 100 books of the 21st century – and number9dream, which were both shortlisted for the Booker prize.


Alison Flood

The GuardianTramp

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