ABC & Xpat Journal Spring 2010 pickby: Hayley from ABC Amsterdam 31-03-2010 Mitchell's first book in four years and without doubt, the most-eagerly awaited literary fiction title of 2010. It is in 1799 in a Japan which has closed itself off from the rest of the world, except for the tiny island of Dejima; here the only westerners allowed are the Dutch with whom the Japanese trade. Jacob de Zoet is a lowly Dutch clerk, charged with uncovering company corruption, a task which requires that he navigate the treacherous waters of company politics and the Japanese culture and language. All de Zoet wants to do is finish his job and earn enough money to go home and get married. Life in a David Mitchell novel is never so simple however and de Zoet finds himself and his faith tested - when a mysterious women with whom he is obsessed disappears, his company collapses and the island is threatened by foreign invaders.
Mitchell is a genius in channeling a range of voices; he seems to completely inhabit his characters, even the women. With neat narrative tricks, simply gorgeous phrases, and a masterful control of tone and flow, this is near-perfect writing. Mitchell is an author at the top of his game who can pull the reader into his vividly created world and make them reluctant to leave. Amazingly, despite popularity and critical acclaim, he has not yet won a major award; The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet will surely change that. This review refers to the trade paperback edition