Review: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet – David Mitchell

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet” required a lot of time to read, only because each sentence is constructed with such brilliance, that I really wanted to enjoy every word that David Mitchell wrote. It is clear to see why this book is nominated for the Man booker Prize.

David Mitchell’s story is about a man by the name of Jacob de Zoet, who is from Holland. He is sent to work at a Japanese trading post, this will give him a chance to make a lot of money, but more importantly prove to his future father in law that he is worthy of his daughter, Anna. It is late 18th century and Japan has been shut off from the world, their only means of communication is through Dejima (the trading post island) where Jacob works as a clerk.

A variety of interpreters are introduced and you quickly learn that there are a lot of things lost in translation. My favorite character, by far, was the doctor named Marinus, it is he who introduces Jacob to the lovely Japanese student, Orito Aibagawa. Orito causes Jacob to lose his reason for being at the trading post, he becomes fascinated with her and his quest to be with her has the reader on the edge of their seat.

This story will take you on a ride, you’ll read about the Dutch beliefs, Japanese beliefs, a shrine that contains women who look up to a very interesting goddess and an abundance of historical fiction. This was my first time reading David Mitchell and I found his writing to be filled with rich characters and outstanding prose. There is no doubt that a lot of research and thought went into writing this brilliant piece of fiction and I urge all of you to go pick it up. At 479 pages, it’s not an easy book to lug around on the TTC, but my shoulder and I will gladly endure the pain for such a brilliant author.


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