The Cloud Atlas ... is, quite simply, one of those first novels that shouldn’t be missed.
— Nancy Pearl, KUOW (Seattle)

about The Cloud Atlas


Set in past and present Alaska, The Cloud Atlas is a novel narrated by a missionary who spent World War II chasing down one of Japan's strangest weapons—firebombs that silently crossed the Pacific, tethered to balloons. But it's the people he found who haunt him longer: a Yupik Eskimo woman, a shaman, a boy. 

In 1944-45, Louis Belk was a soldier, not a missionary, dispatched to find and dispose of these improbable weapons—Fu-Go weapons, or Japanese balloon bombs—and then keep them secret from an already anxious public. 

But the mysteries confronting Louis only increase when he meets his superior officer—a brutal veteran OSS spy hunter who knows all too well what the balloons can do—and a Yupik Eskimo woman who claims she can see the future. Chasing after the ghostly, floating weapons, Louis embarks upon an adventure that will lead him into the vast tundra, to a discovery and a choice that will change the course of his life.


  • "Masterful" —Los Angeles Times
  • "Atmospheric and elegiac"—The Cleveland Plain Dealer
  • "Beautifully written and astonishingly well researched."—San Jose Mercury News
  • "A thought-provoking success."—Detroit Free Press
  • "[The narrator's] natural reticence takes us through the book's most beautiful moment—a casually executed, heart-stopping act of compassion.... It's over almost before you and [the narrator] catch your breath and think, Damn. ...[W]hat stays with you is the great arc of a small man's life on the edge of the world, and of sympathy that resonates."—Time Out New York
  • "...Callanan has produced a genuine page-turner."—Rocky Mountain News
  • "...the novel proffers a disarming bouquet of story lines that, like brightly colored wires leading to an explosive charge, reveal an ominous threat while hiding their maker's logic until it's too late..."—Baltimore City Paper
  • "Callanan is a mesmerizing new talent. This heavenly debut means he must also bear the heaviest of literary labels: that of a promising young writer with, yes, enormous potential. If The Cloud Atlas is any indication, Callanan will have little trouble finding his way."—Creative Loafing (Charlotte, NC)
  • "equal parts history, memory and vision quest.... Callanan wears the burdens of historical fiction with ease."—New York Times Book Review
  • "..a lyrical, thrilling, tragic and funny read that portrays Alaska with the authority of a local."—Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
  • "With its polished form and language, unexpected and haunting episodes and the powerful metaphor of the beautiful, lethal balloon bombs, "Atlas" will be the title of choice for those who enjoy serious literature...." —Anchorage Daily News
  • "...riveting...Callanan elegantly tells a story of secrets and personal revelations, in which World War II is but one battle."—Virginian Pilot
  • The Cloud Atlas "is all silver lining."—