Utopia Avenue are not your average band, I mean for one they are head hunted by their manager to perform together. And Utopia Avenue is not your average novel set during the peak of the rock and roll, and psychedelic days, the inclusion of Dutchman Jasper de Zoet sees to that. David Mitchell’s most recent epic brings Soho to life, unique moments with Janis Joplin and other various prolific icons as well as camraderie and friendship like none other between Elf, Griff, Jasper and Dean, the four that make up Levon Frankland’s dream-team, Utopia Avenue.
David Mitchell was born in Southport, Merseyside, in England, raised in Malvern, Worcestershire, and educated at the University of Kent, studying for a degree in English and American Literature followed by an M.A. in Comparative Literature. He lived for a year in Sicily, then moved to Hiroshima, Japan, where he taught English to technical students for eight years, before returning to England. After another stint in Japan, he currently lives in Ireland with his wife Keiko and their two children. With several novels out including the widely known and acclaimed Cloud Atlas, Utopia Avenue will keep his following content, his first novel in about six years.
Emerging from London’s psychedelic scene in 1967 and fronted by folksinger Elf Holloway, guitar demigod Jasper de Zoet and blues bassist Dean Moss, Utopia Avenue released only two LPs during its extremely 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. Star-studded and with much to keep die-hard musos intrigued, Mitchell has truly culminated a novel for those that loved Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity or Viv Albertine’s memoir. Drugs, sex and rock n roll are all there, but there is more depth to the novel than the shallow sides to a musician’s life. With characters you will find yourself invested in, revelations and the questions that hang over us in life at stake, the depth and substance to this novel gives us more than High Fidelity. The entire moment with Jasper and his back history that traces to Jacob de Zoet is worth sticking with the novel for that alone.
Mitchell’s new novel tells a sophisticated story of Utopia Avenue; 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. Not quite what we expect of Mitchell but a page-turner with fleshed out brilliant characterisation and moments of warmth to light your Summer. Do your wrists a favour and get the paperback now that it’s out.
Utopia Avenue is out now, published by Sceptre