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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet cover art

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Written by: David Mitchell
Narrated by: Jonathan Aris,Paula Wilcox
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Publisher's Summary

A Booker finalist and Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize winner, David Mitchell was called “prodigiously daring and imaginative” by Time and “a genius” by the New York Times Book Review.

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?”

©2010 David Mitchell (P)2010 Recorded Books, LLC

What the critics say

"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. Comparisons to Tolstoy are inevitable, and right on the money." ( Kirkus Reviews)
"Despite the audacious scope, the focus remains intimate; each fascinating character has the opportunity to share his or her story. 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)
“An achingly romantic story of forbidden love . . . [David] 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)

What listeners say about The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

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Packed full of stories and lush poetic prose.

A rich, gorgeous book, filled with adventure, humour, tragedy, many moments of haunting beauty, and a deeply felt generosity of spirit. Not to mention the letter perfect performances. Pure pleasure all the way.

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4 people found this helpful

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Read it already... listened to it the second time.

Maybe I'm biased since David Mitchell is one of my favourite authors but this story is just a gem. Prepared to be transported to the late 19th century Japan through the eyes of a young clerk named Jacob De Zoet (pronouced Yakub de Zeut). I love the touch Marinus adds to the story... he/she's hilariously sassy this book. Jacob and Marinus' character arcs are really touching. They should have made this one into a movie instead of Cloud Atlas! Sheesh! Or Bone Clocks even!

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3 people found this helpful

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Long but rewarding story

An interesting slice of history, well told. However it might’ve been a better novel with a hundred fewer pages.

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2 people found this helpful

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Mitchell's Best

Tangible and well-researched, Mitchell creates a striking picture of a fascinating period of world history. Grounded in its characters but evocative in its setting, this is maybe his most grounded work and likely his best. #Audible1

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Deeply engaging

Wow. This was a compelling story all the way through, but whereas the endings in, I would say, most novels range from satisfying down to deflated and obscure, the last few chapters of this nearly 19-hour work elevate it into art. Remarkable. The story of a young Dutchman come out to the East Indies to make his fortune and win his true love could have been predictable at several points, but Mitchell found subtler and more interesting paths at every juncture.

The narrators are both splendid. Aris, who did most of the narration, is simply remarkable in his ability to produce convincing individual voices in a myriad different accents.

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Should be taught in English classes

This is a new literary classic. Would do well to be studied in English classes.

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Great writing!

Stick with this book, and you will be rewarded. It’s an historical saga that requires attention and persistence to get all the nuggets embedded in it. Highly recommendable.

The narration by J. Aris and P. Wilcox is excellent.

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