• Utopia Avenue

  • A Novel
  • By: David Mitchell
  • Narrated by: Ralph Lister
  • Length: 25 hrs and 16 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (460 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

New York Times Best Seller

The long-awaited new novel from the best-selling, prize-winning author of Cloud Atlas and The Bone Clocks.

New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice

“Mitchell’s rich imaginative stews bubble with history and drama, and this time the flavor is a blend of Carnaby Street and Chateau Marmont.” (The Washington Post)

“A sheer pleasure to read...Mitchell’s prose is suppler and richer than ever.... Making your way through this novel feels like riding a high-end convertible down Hollywood Boulevard.” (Slate)

Named One of the Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post • NPR • USA Today • The Guardian • The Independent Kirkus Reviews Men’s Health • PopMatters

Utopia Avenue is the strangest British band you’ve never heard of. Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967, and fronted by folk singer Elf Holloway, blues bassist Dean Moss and guitar virtuoso Jasper de Zoet, Utopia Avenue embarked on a meteoric journey from the seedy clubs of Soho, a TV debut on Top of the Pops, the cusp of chart success, glory in Amsterdam, prison in Rome, and a fateful American sojourn in the Chelsea Hotel, Laurel Canyon, and San Francisco during the autumn of ’68.

David Mitchell’s kaleidoscopic novel tells the unexpurgated story of Utopia Avenue’s turbulent life and times; of fame’s Faustian pact and stardom’s wobbly ladder; of the families we choose and the ones we don’t; of voices in the head, and the truths and lies they whisper; of music, madness, and idealism. Can we really change the world, or does the world change us?

©2020 David Mitchell (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Narrator Ralph Lister exuberantly conveys the psychedelic music scene of 1967-68.... An impressive chronicle of music and phenomena like the Vietnam War, hippies, and hallucinogens make audio the advisable listening choice." (AudioFile magazine)

What listeners say about Utopia Avenue

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

1960s Nostalgia Served David Mitchell-Style.

Ultimately conventional story -- psychedelic band's rise to moderate fame in London in the 1960s; drugs, sex, decadence, camaraderie, tragedy; walk-ons from famous rock stars like Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, David Bowie, Syd Barrett -- spiced up with Easter Egg references to the author's previous works.

If you're a fan of Mitchell (I've read everything from Cloud Atlas on, and rather wish I'd gotten to The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet before diving into this one), Utopia Avenue is fun and engaging, extra familiar because it's based both in reality and in David Mitchell's universe of horology and orisons. It's a bit like the literary equivalent of last year's Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood; a conventional, recognizable story made unique by the creator's distinct style. I devoured the book in a few days and enjoyed the ride, though it didn't leave an impression anywhere near that of the last few (including Slade House).

Ralph Lister's gravelly voice made me think of Bill Nighy as the aging, burned out rock star in Love Actually. It mostly works. Audio quality is excellent. And if you need a break from the narration, or find yourself suddenly in the mood for music, you can switch to Spotify and open the Utopia Avenue playlist, compiled by Mitchell himself, featuring nearly four hours of songs, from Sandy Denny to Pink Floyd to Cass Elliot, all of whom appear in the novel.

19 people found this helpful

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  • Mj
  • 07-20-20

Worst narrator ever!

I would have loved to listen to this book, but I could not tolerate the narrator.

12 people found this helpful

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Mesmerizing

I absolutely loved every chapter! The characters are lovingly well developed and the story is captivating. I hope this isn’t a spoiler, but I highly recommend reading Mitchell’s previous novel - The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet - before this one so you can fully appreciate some of the intricacies. I’ve loved every other novel by Mitchell, and this one certainly didn’t disappoint.

10 people found this helpful

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Possibly the worst narrator I've ever heard

What an awful, awful voice. No nuance for any of the characters, and it felt as if every line was shouted at me.

8 people found this helpful

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Fun story if you live sixties history and music

I have to make this a quick review so I will just sayi I loved this book and the audiobook aspects which were added such as brief musical introductions to each section to frame the musical styles used by the band. I think you will especially enjoy this if you are a fan of sixties music, remember the era itself, or are a Mitchell fan and have read his past novels. But even if none of those are true I’d recommend giving this a try since for me just the development of the characters in that stage of young adulthood where you come to grips with life and “ adulting” in many ways was enjoyable. The narrator did a great job voicing each of them. For Mitchell fans there are various brief appearances of characters and themes from other books. I was nonplussed at the reappearance if the Bone Clocks supernatural story but it was tangential enough time not ruin the rest of it. My favorite Mitchell reappearing theme is a small one; a grey cat. The cat appears here too and a character remarks “ that cat is no mans cat. She comes. She goes”. Anyway, I really enjoyed this audiobook.

7 people found this helpful

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I love his writing, however....

David Mitchell is an extraordinary writer, and I was so excited he has published another book. I feel for the narrator, there are lots of characters with many different accents, a tall order. However, this should never have been commissioned with only one. It at the very least needs a female voice. My review is based on the execution of the narration, not the book. And not even the fault of the narrator. There were several voices he did really well, but it was too much to think he should/could do 25 different voices in one book. Sorry David Mitchell. Till next time....

6 people found this helpful

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I really tried....

I got through Part 1 (which is five chapters) of 6. As it wrapped up, I realized I didn't care one bit about the characters or what was happening to them. With about 20+ hours to go, I just couldn't keep going. I really did try.

4 people found this helpful

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My new favorites band. Great Story, Great Narrator

I thoroughly enjoyed this book about a British band in the 60’s climbing the musical ladder and encountering many of the iconic musicians of the time. Mitchell fans will appreciate the references to several of his other books and characters.

A quick note about the narrator. I think Ralph Lister did an amazing job bringing the characters to life and presenting the story flawlessly. There are some other comments about the narrator not so glowing. I know that it can be a personal preference so listen to the sample and see if it works for you. I almost didn’t get this book because of those comments and glad I went for it. It would be sad if David Mitchell fans past this up because of those reviews.

Between the story and the narration I could almost hear the music of Utopia Avenue. It made me want to start a band.

3 people found this helpful

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Favorite Mitchell themes via early 60s music scene

This was a lot of fun. Most Mitchell novels are such intricate puzzle boxes that they don't lend themselves as well to audiobook, but this book is more straightforward - but still has enough mystery, magic and past/present dissonance to make you happy if you are a Mitchell fan. Mostly it's just a fun trip through the early 1960s music scene by a master storyteller.

2 people found this helpful

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Rock Band Tribute with classic David Mitchell

absolutely loved this book. following the band around on tour made me wish I could pop in and album of theirs and listen to them play live just from the descriptions that David Mitchell puts into their songwriting their touring and their connections. tons of character overlap with other books that has rich tangent storylines from each of the main characters

1 person found this helpful