Utopia Avenue are the strangest British band you’ve never heard of.
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 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.
David Mitchell’s new novel tells the unexpurgated 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. Can we change the world in turbulent times, or does the world change us? Utopia means ‘nowhere’ but could a shinier world be within grasp, if only we had a map?
Mitchell told Arrackistan: “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture: one famous maxim, attributed to dozens from Miles Davis to Laurie Anderson to Frank Zappa. My new novel Utopia Avenue grew out of the aphorism, too. Songs (mostly) use language, but music plugs directly into something below or above language. Can a novel made of words (and not fitted with built-in speakers or Bluetooth) explore the word-less mysteries of music, and music’s impact on people and the world? How? Is it possible to dance about architecture after all? Utopia Avenue is my rather hefty stab at an answer. I hope you enjoy the ride.”
About the Author
David Mitchell is the bestselling author of, among others, Cloud Atlas, The Bone Clocks, number9dream, Ghostwritten, and Black Swan Green. He has also brought two books on autism by Naoki Higashida to the English-speaking world; contributed to the Netflix series Sense8 and to the upcoming film in The Matrix series; and written opera libretti. Twice shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Mitchell won the Sunday Times Award for Literary Excellence in 2018. He has won or been shortlisted for many prizes including the Costa, Guardian First Book Award, World Fantasy Book Award and Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. He lives in Ireland.