Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr (2021 fiction)
How to describe this book? Really big, for one thing. The common thread running through this book is a fantastic tale by a BCE author, Antonius Diogenes. Its hero, Aethon, goes on a journey in which he becomes a donkey, a fish, and a bird, all in an attempt to reach the golden utopia in the sky which is Cloud Cuckoo Land. The characters in Doerr’s story span six centuries, beginning with Anna, a 13 -year-old orphan in 16th century Constantinople and a village boy, Omeir, in the same time period. In the 20th century, Zeno learns Greek in a POW camp and translates the story, sharing it with five children in the local library. Also occupying their space in time is Seymour, an idealistic teenager, who plants a bomb in the library in order to punish a subdivision developer. In the 22nd century, Konstance is on the spaceship Argos bound for a far distant planet after Earth becomes uninhabitable. The Argos is run by AI, which manages everyone’s life and allows them access to knowledge via virtual reality (think Alexa on steroids).
When I started to read Cloud Cuckoo Land, I wondered where all of these diverse stories were going, but eventually all becomes clear. In the meantime, it is a beautifully written, detailed book that holds your interest until the end.
Reviewed by Ginger Russell