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  • The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
  • Written by David Mitchell
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  • Written by David Mitchell
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A Novel

Written by David MitchellAuthor Alerts:  Random House will alert you to new works by David Mitchell

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On Sale: June 29, 2010
Pages: | ISBN: 978-0-679-60358-0
Published by : Random House Random House Group
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ABOUT THE BOOK ABOUT THE BOOK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR ABOUT THE AUTHOR
PRAISE PRAISE
READER'S GUIDE READER'S GUIDE
EVENTS EVENTS
Synopsis|Excerpt

Synopsis

By the New York Times bestselling author of The Bone Clocks and Cloud 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

Look for special features inside. Join the Random House Reader’s Circle for author chats and more.

Excerpt

-


From the Hardcover edition.
David Mitchell

About David Mitchell

David Mitchell - The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Photo © Paul Stuart

David Mitchell is the award-winning and bestselling author of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, Black Swan Green, Cloud Atlas, Number9Dream, and Ghostwritten. Twice shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, Mitchell was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by TIME magazine in 2007. With KA Yoshida, Mitchell co-translated from the Japanese the international bestselling memoir, The Reason I Jump. He lives in Ireland with his wife and two children.

Praise

Praise

“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


From the Hardcover edition.
Discussion Questions

Discussion Guides

1. David Mitchell once stated that his “intention is to write a bicultural novel, where Japanese perspectives are given an equal weight to Dutch/European perspectives." Do you believe he accomplished this goal in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet? How do you think the perspectives of each culture are portrayed, and are they given equal treatment?
 
2. Jacob de Zoet is an honest, pious man, and has a difficult time coping with the corruption around him on Dejima. Discuss the significance of the psalter, and the impacts of his decision to smuggle it onto the island.

3. One theme of the novel is the power of language -- how does it play into both authority and corruption in the interaction between Dutch and Japanese cultures?
 
4. Alternatively, how do instances of common language unite characters in the novel?
 
5. Vorstenbosch tells Jacob that “the orient is all about signals.” Discuss various mixed signals and miscommunications in the novel and their effects.
 
6. What are your expectations of historical fiction? How do you think this book aligns and diverges with projected notions of the genre?
 
7. Speaking of genre, what others genres do you see influencing this novel?  What does the novel change in each part?
 
8. The novel is peopled with dozens of fascinating secondary and tertiary characters.  Who is your favorite and why?
 
9. Discuss the concept of isolationism and how the novel's various settings and landscapes reflect it.
 
10. If you were to land in Dejima in 1799, what would be the first thing you would do?

David Mitchell

David Mitchell Events>

David Mitchell - The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Photo © Paul Stuart

9/20/2014 IFOA Weekly, Harbourfront Centre, 235 Queens Quay W.
ifoa.org/events
Toronto, ON
3:00 pm
Confirmed
Map It
9/20/2014 Dinner with David Mitchell, Grano Restaurant, 2035 Yonge St.
Details: benmcnallybooks.com
Toronto, ON
6:30 pm
Confirmed
Map It
9/21/2014 Inprint Margarett Root Brown Reading Series at the Cullen Theater
Details: http://www.inprinthouston.org/david-mitchell
Houston, TX
7:30 PM
Confirmed
Map It
9/22/2014 Warwick's Books at Contemporary Museum of Art In conversation with The Book Catapult's Seth Marko
Details: http://warwicks.indiebound.com/event/david-mitchell
La Jolla, CA
7:00 PM
Confirmed
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9/23/2014 Vroman's Bookstore at Freud Playhouse at UCLA
Details: http://www.bookpassage.com/ticketed-event-registration/ticket-includes-lunch-signed-book-david-mitchell-bone-clocks
Los Angeles, CA
8:00 PM
Confirmed
Map It
9/24/2014 Book Passage Corte Madera
Details: http://www.bookpassage.com/ticketed-event-registration/ticket-includes-lunch-signed-book-david-mitchell-bone-clocks
Corte Madera, CA
12:00 PM
Confirmed
Map It
9/24/2014 The Booksmith at the Sundance Kabuki Theater Details: http://www.booksmith.com/event/david-mitchell-bone-clocks
San Francisco, CA
,
7:30 PM
Confirmed
Map It
9/25/2014 The Elliot Bay Book Company at Town Hall Seattle
Details: http://www.elliottbaybook.com/event/david-mitchell
Seattle, WA
7:30 PM
Confirmed
Map It
9/25/2014

,

Confirmed
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9/26/2014 Powell's Books at Cedar Hills Crossing
Details: http://www.powells.com/events/6172/
Beaverton, OR
7:00 PM
Confirmed
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9/27/2014 An Evening with David Mitchell, St. Andrews-Wesley United Church, Burrard at Nelson St.
Info: writersfest.bc.ca
Vancouver, BC
7:30 pm
Confirmed
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