The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

David Mitchell

Full of tension, this epic historic novel set on an isolated 18th century Japanese trading outpost, centres on the economic corruption amongst merchant traders. The secondary story, of a disfigured Japanese woman incarcerated in a nunnery and who later discovers barbaric practices is a much more exciting tale. A challenging read with varied writing styles- you need to work to maintain a natural reading rhythm - but worth the effort.

Extract

Red-nosed Hanzaburo sneezes and wipes his nose on a fistful of straw.
A pigeon trills on the window-ledge.
Ouwehand’s penetrating voice hurries past, along Bony Alley.
However widely Dejima was or wasn’t believed to be on the brink of closure, the morning’s news has roused the factory from lethargy. The copper – many hundreds of crates – shall arrive within four days. Captain Lacy wants it loaded in the Shenandoah’s hold within six and to be leaving Negasaki in a week, before winter turns the China Sea wild and mountainous.

Parallels
  • Shogun by James Chavell
  • The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh