Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (2021 fiction)
With this dedication, “For the librarians then, now, and in the years to come”, the author focuses us on the value of books, knowledge and the power of shared stories. Doerr, who wrote the Pulitzer Prize winner All the Light We Cannot See, takes us into the past, present and future in this book. We travel from Constantinople to Lakeport, Idaho to outer space, meeting several people in each location and time who are struggling to learn, to survive, to teach. Using a fictionalized ancient Greek farce, our main characters are bound together. Each is challenged by the situation facing them—poverty, war, autism, environmental disasters. Books and libraries bind them together. Doerr writes, “But books, like people, die too. They die in fires or floods or in the mouths of worms or at the whims of tyrants. If they are not safeguarded, they go out of the world. And when a book goes out of the world, the memory dies a second death”. This is a book that mustn’t die!
Reviewed by Robin Olivier