HomeGroupsTalkZeitgeist
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by…
Loading...

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (original 2010; edition 2010)

by David Mitchell

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
3,6912251,424 (4.09)3 / 572
Member:sturlington
Title:The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
Authors:David Mitchell
Info:Random House (2010), Edition: First, 3rd printing, Hardcover with dustjacket
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:Historical fiction, Journeys, east and west, clerks, 2010

Work details

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell (2010)

  1. 120
    Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (booklove2)
    booklove2: Very similar in writing style and general events.
  2. 61
    An Instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears (bellisc)
    bellisc: also set at a crossroads of science and faith, though wholly in Europe, similar in writing style and themes
  3. 41
    Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (pgmcc)
    pgmcc: Really enjoyable set of related stories with the author's well deomonstrated skill
  4. 31
    Embassytown by China Miéville (ansate)
  5. 10
    Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company by Multatuli (postvak)
    postvak: Both books have a main character who fights against injustice, and are set in the Dutch colonial past.
  6. 21
    The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott (clif_hiker)
  7. 10
    The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson (Anonymous user)
  8. 10
    Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay (rstaedter)
    rstaedter: Though not a story of eastern and western cultures, nonetheless a dense description of a foreign culture in the past.
  9. 00
    The Bone Clocks: A Novel by David Mitchell (sturlington)
    sturlington: Recurring characters.
  10. 11
    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (psybre)
  11. 33
    Shogun: A Novel of Japan by James Clavell (CGlanovsky, PghDragonMan)
    CGlanovsky: A westerner in Japan.
    PghDragonMan: The best, and worst, of feudal Japan through the eyes of a foreigner.
  12. 46
    Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (kidzdoc)
    kidzdoc: This is another excellent British historical novel.
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

English (220)  Dutch (7)  French (1)  German (1)  Czech (1)  All languages (230)
Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet tells the story of the Dutch East India Company’s trading post off of Nagasaki in 1977. Japan has been cut off from the rest of the world and the only outside influence was a small man-made island known as Dejima. Originally built by Portuguese traders, this island was walled off and used by the Dutch as a trading post from 1641 until 1853. This novel follows the story of Jacob de Zoet, a young clerk who has been sent to Dejima to uncover any evidence of corruption form the previous Chief Resident of this trading post.

My first attempt with David Mitchell was Cloud Atlas which probably was a terrible starting point; I had a lot of problems with the fragmented storyline. I know that Cloud Atlas was an experimental piece of post-modern fiction but for me it felt like a writing exercise to see what genres he was able to write in. With a little push, I was convinced to try The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, which is a straight forward historical fiction novel that would allow me to discover Mitchell as a writer but try anything experimental again. I think if I read this book first, I would have gained an appreciation for this author and been more willing to see what he can do when he played around with genres.

This novel can be broken into two parts. The first half of the book establishes the world; we learn about the history of the Dutch East India Company, Japan and the island of Dejima. Mitchell spends a lot of time building characters and painting beautiful scenery. This is a nice slow-paced section that just explores the history and the culture clash between Japan and the Dutch; it also allows the reader to meet some of the characters. Then the book changes tone completely and everything becomes fast paced and thrilling which I won’t get into as this is where the bulk of the plot happens and I am not willing to give spoilers.

While this book does deal with the culture clash, it also looks at love and the human condition. Jacob de Zoet falls in love with a Japanese midwife, Orito and the plot does focuses a lot around this affection. Orito was a great heroine in this book. She pushes to learn how to be a midwife, in a time and place where the term midwife would have been unheard of. She is this strong willed and intelligent woman that just stole the show for me. I did struggle a little with Jacob de Zoet, he was this incorruptible man working on a trading post full of corruption. He just felt so good and kind, almost to the point of being fake. His prudishness and piety sometimes rubbed me the wrong way; as most people know. I do like characters that are deeply flawed so Jacob came across as too perfect. Having said that, I think this (somewhat) perfect protagonist was utilised well within the novel and helped Mitchell explore the themes around the human condition.

One thing I was curious about that I felt wasn’t explored enough was the language barrier between the Japanese and the Dutch. There was a great deal of exploration with the differences in cultures and how they clashed but when it came to language it was brushed over. There is so much there that was mentioned that I wanted more information about, for example when it came to the translators. The translators had the power to translate Japanese to Dutch and the opportunities for corruption was mentioned briefly and I would have loved to see these ideas explored more.

David Mitchell seems to have a keen interest in Japanese culture and the human condition, I felt like The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet was able to explore these topics far better than I think Cloud Atlas did. I am not trying to rip apart Cloud Atlas (I may re-read it one day), I just felt the emotions and character development were missing from that novel. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet has given me the confidence to try more books by David Mitchell and I am not sure what I will look at next but I am curious. If anyone wants to recommend me another Mitchell book, maybe something with a flawed character, please let me know.

This review originally appeared on my blog; http://literary-exploration.com/2015/01/17/the-thousand-autumns-of-jacob-de-zoet... ( )
  knowledge_lost | Jan 19, 2015 |
I didn't know what to expect from David Mitchell's "Thousand Autumns" except that it would be different than the others I'd read ("Cloud Atlas" and "The Bone Clocks" this year), but that it would contain some familiar faces from the other books.
So reading this one became a little bit of a Where's Waldo game of spotting characters which would show up in later (or earlier) works. Thankfully, he gets Marinus, the main recurring character, on stage quickly, though, because I got sucked into the story after orienting myself around some of the other characters assembling in the Dutch East India Company's little island outpost in Japan.
I love the way the novel pivots from Jacob's arrival to his interest in the burned, odd figure of Miss Aiba-gawa in Marinus's collection of medical students, to her removal to the mysterious mountain monastery, an attempted rescue by her former lover Uzaemon, and the abandonment of the Dutch outpost and its caretaker residents, and then their eventual uprising, when the English arrive on the scene, and Jacob's dismantling of the monastery and 'rescue' of Aiba-gawa by somewhat diplomatic means. More than the heady leaps and bounds of a Cloud Atlas or Bone Clocks these pivots are like the tacking of a majestic ship. And within the sections Mitchell steers his beautiful, masterful prose. He has a small tic, in this book, of breaking up dialogue with narrative description, mid-sentence, so that the language has an odd, halting rhythm of someone in a foreign land, submersed in foreign culture, trying to reconcile their own language with that of their hosts. At a certain stage of the book he used the trick so much that it became a little distracting, but, like I said, it made me think of someone stuck out in a foreign outpost in which he was learning the native language from his translators.

I haven't felt quite the sense of loss I had when I had to give this book back to the library. What a great read. ( )
  mhanlon | Jan 12, 2015 |
Mitchell is an amazing novelist, and this detailed and well-researched piece of historical fiction is no exception. Still, I didn't like this one as much as the other two of his novels I've read, and I'm not entirely sure why. Part of it is the pacing, I think, and the deliberate turn away from the female characters at the midpoint in the book. I got a little bogged down in Dutch / Japanese / English politics, and the arrival of a British ship in the final third didn't do much to build up my interest. All that aside, however, this is still an enjoyable read with a lot to chew on. In fact, it got such great reviews that I feel like I missed something in my reading. This might be one to think on for a little while...

[full review here: http://spacebeer.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-thousand-autumns-of-jacob-de-zoet.html ] ( )
  kristykay22 | Dec 28, 2014 |
Jacob de Zoet arrives in 1799 Nagasaki as a clerk for the Dutch East India Company unprepared for the corruption and intrigue that follows or for the effect a Japanese midwife, Aibagawa Orito, has on him.

I had a hard job matching names and characters at first, but once I got into it, this book was a joy to read. ( )
  Robertgreaves | Dec 19, 2014 |
I listened to this, and it was, again, a fascinating read. Set in Japan at the end of the 18th century, it is a step into two different cultures. Jacob is a clerk with the Dutch East India company and he arrives in Japan determined to make his fortune and return to Holland to win his lady love. Things don;t quite go to plan, as he gets involved in uncovering fraud, before being castigated for failing to turn a blind eye to a further fraud.
Miss Ibagowa is, in contrast, a daughter of a samurai and doctor. She is unusual in that she is a midwife and has access to learning. Just at the point you think their stories will converge, they take a dramatic turn of events. Nothing in this turns out the way it might. The ending is somewhat disconcerting, but that doesn't make the story any the less good for that. ( )
  Helenliz | Dec 18, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 220 (next | show all)
There are no easy answers or facile connections in “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.” In fact, it’s not an easy book, period. Its pacing can be challenging, and its idiosyncrasies are many. But it offers innumerable rewards for the patient reader and confirms Mitchell as one of the more fascinating and fearless­writers alive.
added by LiteraryFiction | edithttp://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/04/books/review/Eggers-t.html?ref=bookreviews, Dave Eggers (Jul 1, 2010)
 
Another Booker Prize nomination is likely to greet this ambitious and fascinating fifth novel—a full-dress historical, and then some—from the prodigally gifted British author
added by sturlington | editKirkus Reviews (May 1, 2010)
 
For his many and enthusiastic admirers — critics, prize juries, readers — the fecundity of Mitchell’s imagination marks him as one of the most exciting literary writers of our age. Indeed, in 2007, he was the lone novelist on Time’ s annual list of the world’s 100 most influential people. Through five novels, most impressively with his 2004 novel, Cloud Atlas, Mitchell has demonstrated flat-out ambition with respect to testing — sometimes past their breaking points — the conventions of storytelling structure, perspective, voice, language and range. The result, according to Mitchell’s rare detractors, is an oeuvre marked by imaginative wizardry and stylistic showmanship put on offer for their own sake. For most everyone else, however, Mitchell’s writing is notable because its wizardry and showmanship are in the service of compulsively readable stories and, at its best moments, are his means of revealing, in strange places and stranger still ways, nothing less than the universals of human experience.
 
Though direct in its storytelling, Jacob de Zoet marks a return to full amplitude. That means occasionally over-long scenes and one or two rambling monologues. But it also guarantees fiction of exceptional intelligence, richness and vitality.
 
With “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet,” David Mitchell has traded in the experimental, puzzlelike pyrotechnics of “Ghostwritten” and “Number9Dream” for a fairly straight-ahead story line and a historical setting.

He’s meticulously reconstructed the lost world of Edo-era Japan, and in doing so he’s created his most conventional but most emotionally engaging novel yet: it’s as if an acrobatic but show-offy performance artist, adept at mimicry, ventriloquism and cerebral literary gymnastics, had decided to do an old-fashioned play and, in the process, proved his chops as an actor.
 

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
David Mitchellprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aris, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilcox, PaulaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For K, H & N with love
First words
'Miss Kawasemi?' Orito kneels on a stale and sticky futon. 'Can you hear me?'
Quotations
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Publisher series
Original language

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
The year is 1799, the place Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor, the “high-walled, fan-shaped artificial island” that is the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window onto the world, designed to keep the West at bay; the farthest outpost of the war-ravaged Dutch East Indies Company; and a de facto prison for the dozen foreigners permitted to live and work there. To this place of devious merchants, deceitful interpreters, costly courtesans, earthquakes, and typhoons comes Jacob de Zoet, a devout and resourceful young clerk who has five years in the East to earn a fortune of sufficient size to win the hand of his wealthy fiancée back in Holland.

But Jacob’s original intentions are eclipsed after a chance encounter with Orito Aibagawa, the disfigured daughter of a samurai doctor and midwife to the city’s powerful magistrate. The borders between propriety, profit, and pleasure blur until Jacob finds his vision clouded, one rash promise made and then fatefully broken. The consequences will extend beyond Jacob’s worst imaginings. As one cynical colleague asks, “Who ain’t a gambler in the glorious Orient, with his very life?”

A magnificent mix of luminous writing, prodigious research, and heedless imagination, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is the most impressive achievement of its eminent author.
Haiku summary
Sorry, we don't trade
With foreigners. Oh, you're Dutch?
Of course, that's different!
(passion4reading)

No descriptions found.

(see all 2 descriptions)

1799, Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor. Jacob de Zoet, a devout and resourceful young clerk, has a chance encounter with Orito Aibagawa, the disfigured daughter of a samurai doctor and midwife to the city's powerful magistrate. The borders between propriety, profit, and pleasure blur until Jacob finds his vision clouded, one rash promise made and then fatefully broken--the consequences of which will extend beyond Jacob's worst imaginings.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 8 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
12 avail.
1104 wanted
4 pay7 pay

Popular covers

Rating

Average: (4.09)
0.5 1
1 12
1.5 2
2 40
2.5 15
3 126
3.5 84
4 398
4.5 157
5 337

Audible.com

An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

See editions

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

» Publisher information page

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alumn

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell was made available through LibraryThing Early Reviewers. Sign up to possibly get pre-publication copies of books.

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 95,791,445 books! | Top bar: Always visible