David Mitchell — The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
The year is 1799, the place Dejima, the “high-walled, fan-shaped artificial island” that is the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window to the world. It is also the farthest-flung outpost of the powerful Dutch East Indies Company. To this place of superstition and swamp fever, crocodiles and courtesans, earthquakes and typhoons, comes Jacob de Zoet. The young, devout and ambitious clerk must spend five years in the East to earn enough money to deserve the hand of his wealthy fiancée. But Jacob’s intentions are shifted, his character shaken and his soul stirred when he meets Orito Aibagawa, the beautiful and scarred daughter of a Samurai, midwife to the island’s powerful magistrate. In this world where East and West are linked by one bridge, Jacob sees the gaps shrink between pleasure and piety, propriety and profit. Magnificently written, a superb mix of historical research and heedless imagination, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is a big and unforgettable book that will be read for years to come. The author of Cloud Atlas’s most ambitious novel yet, for the readers of Ishiguro, Murakami, and, of course, David Mitchell.