Sunday, July 18, 2010

Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Apparently inspired by a trip to Japan, and 10 years in the writing, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is a highly atmospheric and enchantingly transporting book. The first third (and the least dynamic) introduces us to 'Dazuto', as he is named by the locals. A clerk for the Dutch East India Company, sent to Deijima to check the accounting in the company's outpost. This is a book concerned with honour, the limits of loyalty and misuses of religious faith. 
     As with Cloud Atlas, I enjoyed reading David Mitchell's latest offering. The reader is able to thoroughly lose themselves in the world Mitchell creates. He does have a lovely way with words but ultimately, this was not a moving book for me, either intellectually or emotionally.  It's not Mitchell's fault he is described on the cover of my proof copy as 'a man who may yet prove to be the greatest British writer of his age' but, for me, he hasn't yet reached up into greatness.
     On a side note, I was lucky enough to score a proof copy which is a dazzling gold mirror foil all over. While the finished version is rather pretty, with blue glitter embellishments highlighting the text and some of the undulations of the waves, I wonder whether booksellers were disappointed after the Midas-gold of the reading copy.

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