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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

by

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet Cover

ISBN13: 9780812976366
ISBN10: 0812976363
Condition: Standard
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Awards

Staff Pick

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is set in Japan in the late 1700s and deals with trade relations between the Japanese and the Dutch. Mitchell begins by methodically detailing how outwardly different in custom and costume the two cultures are, which only serves to make the personal similarities between characters on each side of the cultural divide that much more compelling. This wouldn't have worked if the author had been only acquainted with the cultures in passing, but he's obviously well versed in Japanese and Dutch history, providing thousands of minor points that coalesce into breathtaking panoramas of Nagasaki and Dejima. It's beautiful writing.
Recommended by Nathan W., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In 2007, Time magazine named him one of the most influential novelists in the world. He has twice been short-listed for the Man Booker Prize. The New York Times Book Review called him simply "a genius." Now David Mitchell lends fresh credence to The Guardian's claim that "each of his books seems entirely different from that which preceded it." The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is a stunning departure for this brilliant, restless, and wildly ambitious author, a giant leap forward by even his own high standards. A bold and epic novel of a rarely visited point in history, it is a work as exquisitely rendered as it is irresistibly readable.

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.

Review:

"Despite the audacious scope, the focus remains intimate....Everything is patched together seamlessly and interwoven with clever wordplay and enlightening historical details on feudal Japan. First-rate literary fiction and a rousing good yarn, too." Booklist (starred review)

Review:

"It's as difficult to put this novel down as it is to overestimate Mitchell's virtually unparalleled mastery of dramatic construction, illuminating characterizations and insight into historical conflict and change." Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Review:

"It is a rare novel that's so captivating that the reader feels transported through time and fully immersed in an unfamiliar culture and place, and this is such a novel....It is intelligent and utterly readable at the same time. Highly recommended." Library Journal (starred review)

Review:

"By any standards, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is a formidable marvel." James Atlas, the New Yorker

Review:

"A page-turner...Mitchell's masterpiece; and also, I am convinced, a masterpiece of our time." Richard Eder, The Boston Globe

Review:

"An achingly romantic story of forbidden love...[David] Mitchell's incredible prose is on stunning display....A novel of ideas, of longing, of good and evil and those who fall somewhere in between [that] confirms Mitchell as one of the more fascinating and fearless writers alive." Dave Eggers, The New York Times Book Review

Review:

"The novelist who's shown us fiction's future has written a classic tale...an epic of sacrificial love, clashing civilizations and enemies who won't rest until whole family lines have been snuffed out." Ron Charles, The Washington Post

Review:

"[Mitchell's] most emotionally engaging novel yet." Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Synopsis:

From the author of Cloud Atlas, now a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant, and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer.

The year is 1799, the place Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor, the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window onto the world, designed to keep the West at bay. To this place of devious merchants, deceitful interpreters, and costly courtesans comes Jacob de Zoet, a devout 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 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.

About the Author

David Mitchell is the acclaimed author of the novels Black Swan Green, which was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of the Year by Time; Cloud Atlas, which was a Man Booker Prize finalist; Number9Dream, which was short-listed for the Man Booker as well as the James Tait Black Memorial Prize; and Ghostwritten, awarded the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize for best book by a writer under 35 and short-listed for the Guardian First Book Award. He lives in Ireland.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 27 comments:

Lauren Davis, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Lauren Davis)
I heard David Mitchell interviewed on NPR and found what he said, and how he said it to be fascinating. Intrigued, I went to NPR's website and read a selection from The Thousand Autumn's of Jacob de Zoet. It happened to be the first few pages of the opening scene which, quite frankly, horrified me. I concluded I didn't have the constitution to deal with feudal Japan and Mitchell's often intense storytelling style. But then I happened upon the actual book at the library and picked it up to leaf through. After reading one page from the middle, I was hooked. Mitchell's storytelling abilities are just too good.

The opening scene turned out to be not as horrific as I thought and the rest of the book, while gritty in a few parts, was lyrical, often funny and always compelling. Compared to Mitchell's earlier works, The Thousand Autumns is in a rather conventional storytelling style, until you realize he's written this historical novel entirely in present tense! No wonder it feels like we're there, exploring this exotic, strange, beautiful and foreboding place along side a handful of very engaging characters.

Since reading The Thousand Autumns, I've also read Cloud Atlas, another work of Mitchell's I was worried I wouldn't like and ended up loving. Now I'm entralled with Mitchell's ability to create whole worlds out of his amazing imagination and innovative craft. Prose this good must take a lot of work, but like all real writing, it flows easily and swiftly. I enjoy the ride.
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nicole d, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by nicole d)
A fascinating story written with exquisite historical detail. The story starts simply enough--a Dutchman in the 18th century sets off for a clerkship at a Dutch East India Company trading post in Japan in order to earn his fortune so he can marry the woman he loves. But he doesn't expect to encounter so much corruption that will test his morals, meet a beautiful Japanese midwife, befriend a cantankerous doctor, or parter with a friendly translator to expose an evil monk. This was the sort of novel that kept me surprised and completely engaged from start to finish. The story kept getting better as it went on and I didn't want it to come to an end.
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bevburke, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by bevburke)
This is my best book of 2012. Good story, characters, description, architecture....need I go on? Lovely prose too!!!!
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View all 27 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780812976366
Author:
Mitchell, David
Publisher:
Random House Trade
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20110331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
8 BLACK-and-WHITE ILLUSTRATIONS
Pages:
512
Dimensions:
28.3 x 13 x 5 in 14 lb

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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet Used Trade Paper
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$10.50 In Stock
Product details 512 pages Random House Trade Paperbacks - English 9780812976366 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is set in Japan in the late 1700s and deals with trade relations between the Japanese and the Dutch. Mitchell begins by methodically detailing how outwardly different in custom and costume the two cultures are, which only serves to make the personal similarities between characters on each side of the cultural divide that much more compelling. This wouldn't have worked if the author had been only acquainted with the cultures in passing, but he's obviously well versed in Japanese and Dutch history, providing thousands of minor points that coalesce into breathtaking panoramas of Nagasaki and Dejima. It's beautiful writing.

"Review" by , "Despite the audacious scope, the focus remains intimate....Everything is patched together seamlessly and interwoven with clever wordplay and enlightening historical details on feudal Japan. First-rate literary fiction and a rousing good yarn, too."
"Review" by , "It's as difficult to put this novel down as it is to overestimate Mitchell's virtually unparalleled mastery of dramatic construction, illuminating characterizations and insight into historical conflict and change."
"Review" by , "It is a rare novel that's so captivating that the reader feels transported through time and fully immersed in an unfamiliar culture and place, and this is such a novel....It is intelligent and utterly readable at the same time. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "By any standards, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is a formidable marvel."
"Review" by , "A page-turner...Mitchell's masterpiece; and also, I am convinced, a masterpiece of our time."
"Review" by , "An achingly romantic story of forbidden love...[David] Mitchell's incredible prose is on stunning display....A novel of ideas, of longing, of good and evil and those who fall somewhere in between [that] confirms Mitchell as one of the more fascinating and fearless writers alive."
"Review" by , "The novelist who's shown us fiction's future has written a classic tale...an epic of sacrificial love, clashing civilizations and enemies who won't rest until whole family lines have been snuffed out."
"Review" by , "[Mitchell's] most emotionally engaging novel yet."
"Synopsis" by , From the author of Cloud Atlas, now a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant, and directed by Lana and Andy Wachowski and Tom Tykwer.

The year is 1799, the place Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor, the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window onto the world, designed to keep the West at bay. To this place of devious merchants, deceitful interpreters, and costly courtesans comes Jacob de Zoet, a devout 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 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.

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