Emma's Reviews > The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
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's review
Nov 08, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: 2010, fiction, historical, islands, globalisation, post-colonial, diaspora_migrants, asia_japan, seafaring, unputdownable
Read from October 11 to 26, 2010

This is just a wonderful book, I love that Mitchell can jump so effortlessly from genre to genre, you never know quite what 'kind' of story you're going to get from him, but you know it will be thrilling, tense, page-turn-y, intelligent, and written in his wonderful prose. I read the first chapter, and I was so, so in. It's just so rich I don't know where to start. He puts stories within stories within stories, and manages to make this story about the Dutch in Japanese Dejima in the (I think) seventeenth century seem like an ultra-contemporary story about women and education, economics and power, institutions, globalisation and international trade, at the same time as being what feels like a really well-researched historical drama that's just a barrel of narrative pleasure. He manages the cross-cultural issues quite well too. There's a great interview with him in the Paris Review where he kind of I dismisses his earlier structural and formal experimentation as youthful exuberance (more or less), and although I really love Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten, I can see his point. He's perfectly capable of telling a straigher narrative than that just as engagingly, as he has here and in the lovely Black Swan Green, but he still has this very innovative spark that he brings to the structure and unfolding of his plots that works really well. I just want to read everything he's written, and I'm so glad he's still young so there will hopefully be much more to come.
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Reading Progress

10/11/2010 page 12
3.0% "ok, first chapter, page 5 = absolutely riveted"
10/18/2010 page 85
18.0% "David Mitchell is just so damn reliable. I will read anything of his, he's always great. (=this is great)"

Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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Steve Mitchell's new one will be out soon. I can't wait. Sounds like you'll be looking forward to it, too, Emma.

Emma Steve wrote: "Mitchell's new one will be out soon. I can't wait. Sounds like you'll be looking forward to it, too, Emma."

O yes :) I'm already in the library queue for it. I'm number 5! He's one of the few contemporary authors I can be bothered being completist about, you know?

Steve I know exactly what you mean, Emma. I doubt he'll disappoint us.

message 4: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Vinogradus I suspect that when his fictional universe is finally laid out in front of us, we'll read all of the earlier books with new eyes.

Emma Totally, I love the callbacks, it just makes his universe richer. It's what Marvel fans get to have, but, y'know, good. I am going to comfort-read Cloud Atlas again as soon as I've, like, read everything else... I feel like there are horologist threads I want to find. Some of your links were eye-opening, Ian, where Mitchell talks about all the links to come between future books. Write fast please!

message 6: by Ian (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ian Vinogradus We could all go to sleep and wake up on publication date!

Cecily "I'm so glad he's still young so there will hopefully be much more to come."

He has his next half dozen books loosely planned out, so you don't need to worry.

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