The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

A Novel

Hardcover, 479 pages

English language

Published Nov. 8, 2010 by Random House.

ISBN:
9781400065455
OCLC Number:
907188040

View on OpenLibrary

4 stars (29 reviews)

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 …

6 editions

Review of 'The thousand autumns of Jacob de Zoet' on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

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 …

Review of 'The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet' on Goodreads

2 stars

The book is mostly about a clerk, working for the Dutch East India Company, who comes to Japan in 1799 to earn his fortune so that he can go back home to marry the girl he loves.

I say "mostly", because the plot does something wonky. Without giving too much away, this departure reinforces the idea that life is never what you expect--not just the events of the plot, but the departure from the expected for the reader of the fiction. (Does that count as metafiction?) Unfortunately, this little artifice caused me to become detached from the main character. By the time I got two-thirds of the way through the book, I really didn't care what happened to any of them--and that's sad, because there's some compassionate stuff in there. In hindsight, it almost felt like Mitchell had ideas for two novels, but just couldn't make them long enough, so …

Review of 'The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet' on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

An excellent story, as I'm beginning to expect each time from Mitchell. I do often think the covers of books are too far apart, but Mitchell's big books should be bigger. I want to know his characters better, stay with them longer - he writes books worthy of greater investment.

Ninety per cent of this book pays off in just this lingering way. Characters are growing, there's movement of years that you barely notice are passed, and you become almost a native of this place he's creating. Then you come to that point when there's more book to the left than to the right (way too much) and you know how much ground Mitchell still has to cover (it's obvious) but there just isn't enough space. He's going to let you dangle or he'll strand you on this foreign island, forgetting to bring you home for something very like a …

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Subjects

  • East and West -- Fiction
  • Trading posts -- Fiction
  • Deshima (Nagasaki-shi, Japan) -- Fiction
  • Japan -- History -- 1787-1868 -- Fiction