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Publisher's Summary

“If you’re looking for a superb novel, look no further.” (The Washington Post)

The instant New York Times bestseller and finalist for the 2021 National Book Award is “wildly inventive, a humane and uplifting book for adults that’s infused with the magic of childhood reading experiences.” (The New York Times Book Review)

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of All the Light We Cannot See, perhaps the most best-selling and beloved literary fiction of our time, comes Cloud Cuckoo Land.

Set in Constantinople in the 15th century, in a small town in present-day Idaho, and on an interstellar ship decades from now, Anthony Doerr’s gorgeous third novel is a triumph of imagination and compassion, a soaring story about children on the cusp of adulthood in worlds in peril, who find resilience, hope - and a book. In Cloud Cuckoo Land, Doerr has created a magnificent tapestry of times and places that reflects our vast interconnectedness - with other species, with each other, with those who lived before us, and with those who will be here after we’re gone.

Thirteen-year-old Anna, an orphan, lives inside the formidable walls of Constantinople in a house of women who make their living embroidering the robes of priests. Restless, insatiably curious, Anna learns to read, and in this ancient city, famous for its libraries, she finds a book, the story of Aethon, who longs to be turned into a bird so that he can fly to a utopian paradise in the sky. This she reads to her ailing sister as the walls of the only place she has known are bombarded in the great siege of Constantinople. Outside the walls is Omeir, a village boy, miles from home, conscripted with his beloved oxen into the invading army. His path and Anna’s will cross.

Five hundred years later, in a library in Idaho, octogenarian Zeno, who learned Greek as a prisoner of war, rehearses five children in a play adaptation of Aethon’s story, preserved against all odds through centuries. Tucked among the library shelves is a bomb, planted by a troubled, idealistic teenager, Seymour. This is another siege. And in a not-so-distant future, on the interstellar ship Argos, Konstance is alone in a vault, copying on scraps of sacking the story of Aethon, told to her by her father. She has never set foot on our planet.

Like Marie-Laure and Werner in All the Light We Cannot See, Anna, Omeir, Seymour, Zeno, and Konstance are dreamers and outsiders who find resourcefulness and hope in the midst of gravest danger. Their lives are gloriously intertwined. Doerr’s dazzling imagination transports us to worlds so dramatic and immersive that we forget, for a time, our own. Dedicated to “the librarians then, now, and in the years to come,” Cloud Cuckoo Land is a beautiful and redemptive novel about stewardship—of the book, of the Earth, of the human heart.

From the National Book Award finalist citation:

“From the 15th century to the future, the five protagonists in Anthony Doerr’s brilliant Cloud Cuckoo Land come together astonishingly in the stories they make of their lives, rewritten by time and circumstance. This marvelous book is like an astrolabe or an armillary sphere; a navigation instrument engineered to discover the world. Urgent, rife with relevance and compassion, Doerr’s novel affirms the necessity of the made thing, the capacious imagination, and storytelling.”

©2021 Anthony Doerr. All rights reserved. (P)2021 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.

What listeners say about Cloud Cuckoo Land

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

Academic Snobbery

After reading and loving Doerr’d All the light you cannot see, I was anticipating a terrific story. Instead cuckoo land is written to show his scholarship and impress those English teachers who believe Joyce’s Ulysses was a good story and not boring. They’ll give Doerr a prize and he’ll be pleased but his readers will be bored.

35 people found this helpful

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An original idea maybe - but one big conceit

I'm a fan of Doerr's writing. Lovely prose and cadence. A smart writer. I also rarely give up on books, but after a few hours, I did here. I liked Marin Ireland's narration, but that wasn't enough to sustain interest. The Washington Post review made a good point, and I paraphrase, that each one of the story strands could have been a novel itself. It is just too much that doesn't play fair with the reader. It has a big cast, but normally not problematic for me. Here, I found it jarring because it interfered with the momentum of the novel and the narrative tension; Doerr builds tension and then abruptly jumps to a different story strand over a (huge) leap of time. It soon entered meandering territory and I found myself becoming distracted, and then irritated. An original idea maybe, but in execution, just one big conceit.

24 people found this helpful

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Rare and Beautiful Experience

I ‘ve only just finished listening to this incredible book and am filled with the extraordinary experience of living through the lives of five characters, greatly separated in space and time. The book is provocative, exquisitely beautiful, and absolutely stuffed with significant ideas and a certain hope for humanity despite our destructive behaviors.

24 people found this helpful

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Bad start- this story almost lost me at the beginning. I was put off by the male voices reading the ancient text- but hang in.

The strange ancient text and the flowery oration almost had me- I almost quit listening- SO GLAD I KEPT LISTENING. This is a great book. Thousands of years- multiple stories. A great book. History- and future and how they are all worked into one tale.

17 people found this helpful

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Loved the book, not the narrator

I loved this book, and will listen to it many more times. It was worth the purchase price and then some. The only thing I didn't like was the narrator. I just didn't think she fit the story very well.

15 people found this helpful

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It’s been a long time since a book made me cry.

I think some reviews are hyper critical of this book, and needlessly so. It isn’t perfect. It is ambitious and successful, though, and inventive and beautifully written. I enjoyed it completely.

14 people found this helpful

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Drug experience

I am not a drug user but this story seems like what it would be like. Nothing makes sense. I lasted about 3 hours maybe. I hated this story so much. I loved All the Light We Cannot See and had read the article in the Wall Street Journal about Cloud Cuckoo Land. I couldn’t recommend this story to my worst enemy.

11 people found this helpful

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Great Listen, Beautiful Prose

The story is incredible—it unfolds brilliantly and narration is great—I have been listening non-stop. I highly recommend

11 people found this helpful

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Weird but awesome

I hesitated to buy this because I thought it would be hard to follow given the span of the story but it flowed so well and always kept a little breadcrumb to follow. Couldn't stop listening, I had to find out the next thing

9 people found this helpful

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Hours wasted I'll never get back

Just awful & never gets better. No resolution. The connection between the stories no way near redeems the story. What a colossal waste of a credit.
I thought the female narrator was good, but by 1/2 way thru the book, her voice as Maria (& then others) became very cringy, imho.

7 people found this helpful