In 2007,Â TimeÂ magazine named him one of the most influential novelists in the world. He has twice been short-listed for the Man Booker Prize.Â The New York Times Book ReviewÂ called him simply â€œa genius.â€ Now David Mitchell lends fresh credence toÂ The Guardianâ€™s claim that â€œeach of his books seems entirely different from that which preceded it.â€Â The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de ZoetÂ 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 â€œhigh-walled, fan-shaped artificial islandâ€ that is the Japanese Empireâ€™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 fiancÃ©e back in Holland.
But Jacobâ€™s original intentions are eclipsed after a chance encounter with Orito Aibagawa, the disfigured daughter of a samurai doctor and midwife to the cityâ€™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 Jacobâ€™s worst imaginings.Â As one cynical colleague asks, â€œWho ainâ€™t a gambler in the glorious Orient, with his very life?â€
A magnificent mix of luminous writing, prodigious research, and heedless imagination,Â The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de ZoetÂ is the most impressive achievement of its eminent author.