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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by…
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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010)

by David Mitchell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Horologists (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
4,5992701,486 (4.08)3 / 687
  1. 120
    Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh (booklove2)
    booklove2: Very similar in writing style and general events.
  2. 71
    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. 21
    The Coral Thief by Rebecca Stott (clif_hiker)
  6. 43
    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.
  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. 11
    Max Havelaar: Or the Coffee Auctions of the Dutch Trading Company by Multatuli (pgraat)
    pgraat: Both books have a main character who fights against injustice, and are set in the Dutch colonial past.
  9. 00
    The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton (Anonymous user)
  10. 00
    Mason & Dixon: A Novel by Thomas Pynchon (zottel)
    zottel: Very similar feeling, perfect story-telling in well-researched historical fiction.
  11. 12
    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson (psybre)
  12. 47
    Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel (kidzdoc)
    kidzdoc: This is another excellent British historical novel.
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English (263)  Dutch (8)  German (3)  French (1)  Czech (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (277)
Showing 1-5 of 263 (next | show all)
Wow. I loved this book. It started slowly and I was a little worried, since I wasn't crazy about Mitchell's previous book, Black Swan Green. But about halfway through the first section, I was completely hooked and I could hardly stand to put the book down last night. (It didn't help that I stopped reading at the end of the second section, which ends on an ominous note.)

I must admit that I read the third (and final) section very quickly this morning, not so much because I was eager to have the book done with as because I was very very concerned about a particular character who did not reappear for pages and pages.

This book isn't what I expected--after the slight Black Swan Green, I thought that Mitchell would give us another experiment with voice and form, more like Cloud Atlas or number9dream. This book is a yarn. It's a yarn with a theme, though. In some ways I think that the story is so compelling that it becomes easy to miss what Mitchell is saying about tribalism and ethnicity and religion. ( )
  GaylaBassham | May 27, 2018 |
This is a difficult book for me to review. I enjoyed many parts of it, but it never quite came together for me. The historical setting and the interesting characters should make this a no-brainer 5 star read for me, but I felt that the story bounced between the perspectives of too many characters to fully grab me and immerse me in the story. As a plot device, Mitchell does an outstanding job of exposing us to multiple cultures and really brings them all together through the differing perspectives. He even gives us an ending to the immediate story, and let's us know what happens to the main character in the years following the main story. Overall a good read, but just short of great for me. ( )
  msaucier818 | Apr 9, 2018 |
Historical accurateness aside, I thought it was a very good read. Especially after the first third or so, the book really caught me and begged to be finished a.s.a.p. ( )
  oOArankaOo | Apr 2, 2018 |
Completely fascinating. Enjoyed every minute of it. ( )
  cmt100 | Jan 28, 2018 |
Whatever the book might lack in believable plot and characters (which is only a little), it makes up for in atmosphere, historical accuracy, and intrigue. ( )
  snash | Jan 27, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 263 (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
Mitchell, Davidprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Aris, JonathanNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Wilcox, PaulaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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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
‘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.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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)

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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)

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