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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

by

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet Cover

ISBN13: 9781400065455
ISBN10: 1400065453
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Awards

Staff Pick

Widely praised, and rightfully so, as one of the most gifted writers of his generation, Mitchell has yet again created an amazing story that's wholly original and enthralling. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet fulfills the promise of Mitchell's previous work.
Recommended by Michal D., Powells.com

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:

"Mitchell's rightly been hailed as a virtuoso genius for his genre-bending, fiercely intelligent novels Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas. Now he takes something of a busman's holiday with this majestic historical romance set in turn-of-the-19th-century Japan, where young, nave Jacob de Zoet arrives on the small manmade island of Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor as part of a contingent of Dutch East Indies officials charged with cleaning up the trading station's entrenched culture of corruption. Though engaged to be married in the Netherlands, he quickly falls in hopeless love with Orito Aibagawa, a Dutch-trained Japanese midwife and promising student of Marinus, the station's resident physician. Their 'courtship' is strained, as foreigners are prohibited from setting foot on the Japanese mainland, and the only relationships permitted between Japanese women and foreign men on Dejima are of the paid variety. Jacob has larger trouble, though; when he refuses to sign off on a bogus shipping manifest, his stint on Dejima is extended and he's demoted, stuck in the service of a vengeful fellow clerk. Meanwhile, Orito's father dies deeply in debt, and her stepmother sells her into service at a mountaintop shrine where her midwife skills are in high demand, she soon learns, because of the extraordinarily sinister rituals going on in the secretive shrine. This is where the slow-to-start plot kicks in, and Mitchell pours on the heat with a rescue attempt by Orito's first love, Uzaemon, who happens to be Jacob's translator and confidant. Mitchell's ventriloquism is as sharp as ever; he conjures men of Eastern and Western science as convincingly as he does the unscrubbed sailor rabble. Though there are more than a few spots of embarrassingly bad writing ('How scandalized Nagasaki shall be, thinks Uzaemon, if the truth is ever known'), Mitchell's talent still shines through, particularly in the novel's riveting final act, a pressure-cooker of tension, character work, and gorgeous set pieces. It's certainly no Cloud Atlas, but it is a dense and satisfying historical with literary brawn and stylistic panache. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

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

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

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.

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 45 comments:

mdemarie, January 23, 2011 (view all comments by mdemarie)
What a lovely book-- it's measured and deliberately paced, and gives the story plenty of time to unfold. I was charmed by all the characters and the unique cultural setting.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
Tracy Jacobson, January 23, 2011 (view all comments by Tracy Jacobson)
I have never read a book which is less predictable, yet every turn of the plot is so satisfying.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(2 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
Danielle M, January 19, 2011 (view all comments by Danielle M)
David Mitchell is a masterful storyteller. I was captivated by Cloud Atlas and didn't think that he could top it. And then came along "The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet." It's not that "Thousand Autumns" is necessarily better (the two novels are so remarkably different that it's difficult to compare them) but it once again showcases the brilliance of Mitchell's writing and his ability to transport a reader to a different place and time so entirely and so beautifully.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 45 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9781400065455
Subtitle:
A Novel
Author:
Mitchell, David
Publisher:
Random House
Subject:
General
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Historical fiction
Subject:
East and West
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
fiction;japan;historical fiction;novel;historical;nagasaki;18th century;british;history;dutch east india company;21st century;literature;19th century;england;love;literary fiction;trade;holland;colonialism;english;historical novel;medicine;samurai;contemp
Subject:
Historical
Subject:
fiction;japan;historical fiction;novel;historical;nagasaki;18th century;british;history;dutch east india company;21st century;literature;19th century;england;love;literary fiction;trade;holland;colonialism;english;historical novel;medicine;samurai;contemp
Subject:
fiction;japan;historical fiction;novel;historical;nagasaki;18th century;british;history;dutch east india company;21st century;literature;19th century;england;love;literary fiction;trade;holland;colonialism;english;historical novel;medicine;samurai;contemp
Subject:
fiction;japan;historical fiction;novel;historical;nagasaki;18th century;british;history;dutch east india company;21st century;literature;19th century;england;love;literary fiction;trade;holland;colonialism;english;historical novel;medicine;samurai;contemp
Publication Date:
20100629
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
8 BLACK-and-WHITE ILLUSTRATIONS
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
9.46x6.58x1.36 in. 1.83 lbs.

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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet Used Hardcover
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$8.95 In Stock
Product details 496 pages Random House - English 9781400065455 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Widely praised, and rightfully so, as one of the most gifted writers of his generation, Mitchell has yet again created an amazing story that's wholly original and enthralling. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet fulfills the promise of Mitchell's previous work.

"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.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Mitchell's rightly been hailed as a virtuoso genius for his genre-bending, fiercely intelligent novels Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas. Now he takes something of a busman's holiday with this majestic historical romance set in turn-of-the-19th-century Japan, where young, nave Jacob de Zoet arrives on the small manmade island of Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor as part of a contingent of Dutch East Indies officials charged with cleaning up the trading station's entrenched culture of corruption. Though engaged to be married in the Netherlands, he quickly falls in hopeless love with Orito Aibagawa, a Dutch-trained Japanese midwife and promising student of Marinus, the station's resident physician. Their 'courtship' is strained, as foreigners are prohibited from setting foot on the Japanese mainland, and the only relationships permitted between Japanese women and foreign men on Dejima are of the paid variety. Jacob has larger trouble, though; when he refuses to sign off on a bogus shipping manifest, his stint on Dejima is extended and he's demoted, stuck in the service of a vengeful fellow clerk. Meanwhile, Orito's father dies deeply in debt, and her stepmother sells her into service at a mountaintop shrine where her midwife skills are in high demand, she soon learns, because of the extraordinarily sinister rituals going on in the secretive shrine. This is where the slow-to-start plot kicks in, and Mitchell pours on the heat with a rescue attempt by Orito's first love, Uzaemon, who happens to be Jacob's translator and confidant. Mitchell's ventriloquism is as sharp as ever; he conjures men of Eastern and Western science as convincingly as he does the unscrubbed sailor rabble. Though there are more than a few spots of embarrassingly bad writing ('How scandalized Nagasaki shall be, thinks Uzaemon, if the truth is ever known'), Mitchell's talent still shines through, particularly in the novel's riveting final act, a pressure-cooker of tension, character work, and gorgeous set pieces. It's certainly no Cloud Atlas, but it is a dense and satisfying historical with literary brawn and stylistic panache. (July)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"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."
"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

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.

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