The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet

A Novel

Mitchell, David

Book - 2010
Average Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet
Random House, Inc.
By the New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks andCloud Atlas | Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize

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.

Praise for The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

“A page-turner . . . [David] Mitchell’s masterpiece; and also, I am convinced, a masterpiece of our time.”—Richard Eder,The Boston Globe

“An achingly romantic story of forbidden love . . . 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

“The novelist who’s been showing us the future of fiction has published a classic, old-fashioned 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

“By any standards, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is a formidable marvel.”—James Wood,The New Yorker

“A beautiful novel, full of life and authenticity, atmosphere and characters that breathe.”—Maureen Corrigan, NPR

Baker & Taylor
Dispatched to the influential Japanese port of Dejima in 1799, ambitious clerk Jacob de Zoet resolves to earn enough money to deserve his wealthy fiancée, an effort that is challenged by his relationship with the midwife daughter of a Samurai.

Publisher: New York : Random House, c2010
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9781400065455
Branch Call Number: FIC M
Characteristics: 479 p. : ill. ; 25 cm.


From the critics

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Nov 24, 2014
  • Persnickety77 rated this: 4.5 stars out of 5.

wow. this book is pretty marvelous. i picked it up because i loved Mitchell's Cloud Atlas so much, but i was skeptical because i have no interest in the Dutch East Indies Trading Company or samurai-era Japan or the beginning of the 19th century. but it is a very absorbing book. well written, informative, interesting, and bittersweet. pretty much everything you'd want in a book!

Oct 13, 2014
  • Sluffer rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A wonderful of the best works of fiction that I have ever read.

Jul 09, 2014
  • aramonak rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

A great read, but after some consideration, I was disappointed. It went through the tabloid top-ten complaints about Japan and the Japanese and fictionalized them without enough effort put into providing perspective. This is a whale of a tale!

Jun 13, 2014
  • theorbys rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

Entertaining enough and well written and well crafted, but hardly great writing. Interesting mainly for its period setting.

Jan 03, 2014
  • stewstealth rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A very good book from a very good author. Good characterizations, settings, prose and plots. Definitely worth reading.

Dec 18, 2013
  • rooibos rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Could not get into this book. Disappointing.

May 30, 2013
  • martinja rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This was the first book of David Mitchell I read and thoroughly enjoyed it. His flexibility with different prose styles and multillevels of story serve to engross the reader for the whole book. He is a masterful writer and has jumped to my favourite author. I like this book better than Cloud Atlas.

Apr 06, 2013
  • mo21 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is a beautiful book full of details of everyday life in late 18th and early 19th Japan.The author has a gift for creating tension by his use of dialogue interspersed with the characters thoughts. There are themes of deceit, betrayal, loss, love etc.
The style is wonderfully descriptive and at times poetic.

Jan 12, 2013
  • Heidikmac rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Especially for anyone who has read and enjoyed Mitchell's other work, THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS will be a joy. Intricately researched and beautifully painted, this novel will rope you into a part of our world that most people don't even realize existed. A great introduction to the Dutch East India Company's time in Japan and an even better introduction to the fluid prose of David Mitchell.

Oct 11, 2012

A look at what happens when cultures collide. An account of a Dutch man's time in Japan, and the consequences of his friendship with a remarkable female Japanese mid-wife. Both moving and thought-provoking.

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Oct 11, 2012

5redpandas thinks this title is suitable for 16 years and over

Aug 05, 2012
  • spacecat rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

spacecat thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over


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Aug 05, 2012
  • spacecat rated this: 3.5 stars out of 5.

Frightening or Intense Scenes: Detailed descriptions of crude surgeries, midwifery, childbirth, poisonings, ritual suicide and infanticide.


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