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

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
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Dec 30, 10

bookshelves: caffeine, constant-reader
Read from July 29 to August 01, 2010

The review essay by James Wood in a recent New Yorker magazine -- discussing the potential place of historical fiction in contemporary literary and experimental circles -- led me to this book. I also loved the same writer's very different book Black Swan Green, so I was up for another Mitchell.

Now that I've read the book, I must say I enjoyed Jacob de Zoet a lot. Once it got started I found the story very interesting and its flow not always easy to predict. I thought Mitchell did a wonderful job with his characters and also with his presentation of life in that small trading colony in Nagasaki harbor.

There were some intriguing stylistic devices that were fun for me to notice and ponder, such as [SPOILER ALERT:] the sly rhyming prose description of the diving and swooping seagulls at the start of chapter 39, told from the point of view of Magistrate Shiroyama contemplating his need to commit hari-kari -- all one long, exhausting run-on sentence.

In fact, Mitchell had a fascinating way of presenting the turmoil and inner focus of characters facing imminent death (now now now) -- which made it hard to know at times which characters might or might not survive a particular crisis.
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Reading Progress

07/29/2010 page 226
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message 1: by Wilhelmina (new)

Wilhelmina I haven't read Mitchell yet, but I see that he should be on my read-soon list!


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