Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.


The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010)

by David Mitchell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Horologists (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
5,7893051,636 (4.09)3 / 759
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)
Recently added bykeytesvillelibrary, Twisk, MuhammedSalem, macha, overfiend0a, Rini55, private library
  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. 51
    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. 53
    Shogun by James Clavell (CGlanovsky, PghDragonMan)
    CGlanovsky: A westerner in Japan.
    PghDragonMan: The best, and worst, of feudal Japan through the eyes of a foreigner.
  6. 21
    The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott (clif_hiker)
  7. 00
    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.
  8. 00
    Mason & Dixon by Thomas Pynchon (zottel)
    zottel: Very similar feeling, perfect story-telling in well-researched historical fiction.
  9. 12
    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (psybre)
  10. 12
    Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company by Multatuli (petergt)
    petergt: Both books have a main character who fights against injustice, and are set in the Dutch colonial past.
  11. 49
    Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (kidzdoc)
    kidzdoc: This is another excellent British historical novel.

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

» See also 759 mentions

English (293)  Dutch (8)  French (2)  German (2)  Spanish (1)  Finnish (1)  Czech (1)  All languages (308)
Showing 1-5 of 293 (next | show all)
Set in Nagasaki around 1790 to 1810, the novel is very rich in period and Japanese detail, with complex and deeply described characters. Jacob de Zoet is an educated man who was raised in a parsonage to be faithful and truthful. He wishes to marry a girl in his native Holland, but her father insist he join the Dutch East India Company to make his fortune before he can marry. The Japanese of the Shogunate often referred to Japan as "the land of a thousand autumns". Each character has a story, told in the omniscient third person, so the reader knows their thoughts. The main plot is driven by the abduction of a young woman midwife, Orito Aibagawa, taken to a sinister monastery overseen by a powerful abbot. Jacob develops a longing for her when she is studying with the Dutch physician on Dejima, the walled island where the Europeans are confined while they carry on business. In somewhat of an aside from Jacob's story , interpreter Ogawa, who has also longed for the midwife, fails miserably in an attempt to rescue Orito and is killed by the abbot. The novel then describes the arrival of an English frigate with news of Bonaparte's conquest of Holland, and when the Japanese magistrate, advised by de Zoet, refuses to grant the English trading rights, the captain bombards Dejima. Jacobs obsession ends after a brief conversation with Orito following the death of the abbot, and the end of the novel briefly describes Jacob's return to Holland and later life. ( )
  neurodrew | Aug 17, 2023 |
I get a bit suspicious of David Mitchell, because he's just so damn readable. This book is no exception, being interesting, well written and having lively, engaging characters. The plot does cross that line from fast-paced to unlikely a couple of times in the middle of the book, but other than that it is a flawless tale of adventure. I could never give it five stars, though, as it really is just a jolly good adventure and so is just a lot smaller in scope than something like Cloud Atlas. ( )
  robfwalter | Jul 31, 2023 |
I've read two other works of David Mitchell's. Both were a collection of short stories grouped together to form a novel ,full of variety, and faced paced. This one on the other hand was a long work of historical fiction. And while I did appreciate the historical aspects of this work I found myself longing for the variety and fast pace of the David Mitchell I'd grown accustomed to. ( )
  kevinkevbo | Jul 14, 2023 |
This guy hasn't let me down yet. Good story lines, good characters, believable historical details, ends well. ( )
  markm2315 | Jul 1, 2023 |
A great read, but a bit disjointed. At times it feels like the author wants to push home how much research he did to prepare for the work. However, the setting of 19th-century Japan and its Dutch outpost allows for the making of a fantastic story, intertwining intrigue, a bit of romance, and historical fiction. Due to some of the subject matter, though, this book is not for the faint at heart. ( )
  alrajul | Jun 1, 2023 |
Showing 1-5 of 293 (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 (7 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Mitchell, Davidprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aris, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Berri, ManuelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilcox, PaulaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

Belongs to Series

Belongs to Publisher Series

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
For K, H & N with love
First words
'Miss Kawasemi?' Orito kneels on a stale and sticky futon. 'Can you hear me?'
‘If only,’ Shiroyama dreams, ‘human beings were not masks behind masks behind masks. If only this world was a clean board of lines and intersections. If only time was a sequence of considered moves and not a chaos of slippages and blunders.”
Creation never ceased on the sixth evening, it occurs to the young man. Creation unfolds around us, despite us and through us at the speed of days and nights. And we call it love.
“The soul is a verb." He impales a lit candle on a spike. "Not a noun.”
For white men, to live is to own, or to try to own more, or to die trying to own more. Their appetites are astonishing! They own wardrobes, slaves, carriages, houses, warehouses, and ships. They own ports, cities, plantations, valleys, mountains, chains of islands. They own this world, its jungles, its skies, and its seas. Yet they complain that Dejima is a prison. They complain they are not free.
Killing depends on circumstances, as you'd expect, whether it's a cold, planned murder, or a hot death in a fight, or inspired by honor or a more shameful motive. However many times you kill, though, it's the first that matters. It's a man's first blood that banishes him from the world of the ordinary.
Last words
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English (2)

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.

No library descriptions found.

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!

LibraryThing Early Reviewers Alum

David Mitchell's book The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet was available from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Popular covers

Quick Links


Average: (4.09)
0.5 1
1 15
1.5 2
2 65
2.5 18
3 194
3.5 103
4 581
4.5 188
5 511

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

Recorded Books

An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.

» Publisher information page


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 195,116,194 books! | Top bar: Always visible