The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

  • by David Mitchell
  • Narrated by Jonathan Aris, Paula Wilcox
  • 18 hrs and 59 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

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?”

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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)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Less about the arrival more about the ride

Exquisitely crafted and beautifully performed!

I confess to getting lost among the plethora of characters and situations; often struggling to remember who was who and what they were up to. I sometimes felt as though I were sitting too close to a large painting, only able to see details but unable to see the big picture.

In the beginning I occasionally felt like giving up, but decided to simply step back and enjoy the ride; hoping that, eventually, things would come together and the fog would clear.

The ride was fascinating; even when I wasn't always following the intrigues. Just being in this place; witnessing this culture, and its characters, was enough to keep me listening. I left like an observer who, while I didn't always know what it was all about, was fascinated by the personalities, the voices, the conditions and the strangeness of the Japanese culture of the period.

As it turned out I found myself enjoying many Aha moments, as pieces suddenly fell into place and situations became clear.

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- Michael Cox

A NEAR Perfect Novel.

Mitchell's got the precision of Roth, the bigness of Tolstoy, the ventriloquism of Pynchon and the heart of ... Hugo perhaps. IT is rare for me to find a book that hits me as hard as this one did. A near perfect novel.
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- Darwin8u

Book Details

  • Release Date: 06-18-2010
  • Publisher: Recorded Books