Viewport width =
May 14, 2012 | by  | in Arts Books |
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

Review – Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet

Set on Dejima, the fan-shaped artificial island that housed and hid foreign traders from an isolationist Japan, David Mitchell’s Thousand Autumns follows the Dutchman De Zoet as he fumbles his way through love, some dodgy company accounts, and a fair amount of dark magic.

Perhaps a reflection of what is happening around them on a much larger scale, it is the Westerner De Zoet’s sudden yet unrequited desire for a wise and scarred Eastern midwife, Orito, that sets the plot (and, one can believe on reading this increasingly eerie novel, the massive smoke-shrouded cogs of some ancient form of Eastern mysticism) in motion.

De Zoet moves between a mundane island existence and the court—and brothels—of a not-quite-translated Nagasaki, until a regrettable decision sends both Orito and the reader into the cold and hostile forests, to a fortress shrine whose sinister practices slowly unravel, the effect of which reverberates back to Nagasaki.

Fan of Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas and Ghostwritten may initially be disappointed by the linear structure of Thousand Autumns, but it would be a short-lived disappointment; the author’s stunning wordplay, coupled with thorough research, will leave the reader dazzled by, and ever so slightly aghast at, how a mind like Mitchell’s must work.

Having received the long-list nod from the Man Booker judging panel, we will just have to wait and see what’s next for De Zoet’s Japan or rather, as Mitchell much more romantically puts it, his Thousand Autumns.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

About the Author ()

Comments are closed.

Recent posts

  1. SWAT
  2. Ravished by the Living Embodiment of All Our University Woes
  3. New Zealand’s First Rainbow Crossing is Here (and Queer)
  4. Chloe Has a Yarn About Mental Health
  5. “Stick with Vic” Makes “Insulting” and “Upsetting” Comments
  6. Presidential Address
  7. Final Review
  8. Tears Fall, and Sea Levels Rise
  9. It’s Fall in my Heart
  10. Queer Coverage: Local, National, and International LGBTQIA+ News
Website-Cover-Photo7

Editor's Pick

This Ain’t a Scene it’s a Goddamned Arm Wrestle

: Interior – Industrial Soviet Beerhall – Night It was late November and cold as hell when I stumbled into the Zhiguli Beer Hall. I was in Moscow, about to take the trans-Mongolian rail line to Beijing, and after finding someone in my hostel who could speak English, had decided