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Extended Audio Sample The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, by David Mitchell Click for printable size audiobook cover
4.42 out of 54.42 out of 54.42 out of 54.42 out of 54.42 out of 5 4.42 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: David Mitchell Narrator: Jonathan Aris, Paula Wilcox Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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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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Quotes & Awards

  • “[Mitchell’s] most engaging novel yet…An affecting conclusion that underscores Mr. Mitchell’s mastery here not only of virtuosic literary fireworks, but also of the quieter arts of empathy and traditional storytelling.” 

    New York Times

  • “An achingly romantic story of forbidden love…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.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “Mitchell’s masterpiece; and also, I am convinced, a masterpiece of our time.” 

    Boston Globe

  • “A dense and satisfying historical with literary brawn and stylistic panache.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • “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 (starred review) 
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month, July 2010
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A 2010 Washington Post Best Book for Fiction
  • A 2010 Financial Times Best Book of the Year
  • Selected for the July 2010 Indie Next List
  • A 2010 Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book for Fiction
  • A 2010 Time Magazine Top 10 Book for Fiction
  • Winner of the 2011 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Book: Europe and South Asia
  • New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books, 2010
  • A 2011 Audie Award Finalist
  • Longlisted for the 2010 Man Booker Prize

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Paul | 2/14/2014

    " Set in the Dutch trading enclave and the environs of Nagasaki at the turn of the 19th century, this work can be seen as three intertwining novellas, held together by the central character of de Zoet. The pace is fast, there are a lot of interesting characters, and the atmosphere always feels genuine. The standard of writing is constantly high, and varies in tone frequently. Suspensful, entertaining, and thought-provoking. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Jeff | 2/9/2014

    " Not naturally the most engaging subject matter but Mitchell turns it into an engrossing narrative with solid prose. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Shaun Deane | 2/7/2014

    " Perhaps the best I have read in 20 years or so. The final 30 pages are just beautiful. A wonderful book. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Ann Brogan | 2/2/2014

    " One of my favourite recent reads and it will certainly be one I will not forget in a long time. The opening sections are breathtakingly earthy in their realism and at times a bit hard to stomach but I literally couldn't wait to get back to the novel when I had to put it down and so managed to read the first part in a matter of days. A good writer of historical fiction should be able to take the reader into the world in which the story is set. David Mitchell does this with aplomb while also maintaining his own, very distinctive voice as an author. This is his first novel set in the distant past and the notes at the end make it clear what a difficult task it is to write historical fiction. Although I found it sagged a little in the final section, especially with all the incomprehensible marine terminology, the ending was, on the whole, satisfyingly romantic without being overly sentimental. "

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