Start reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: A Novel on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.
Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player


The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: A Novel [Kindle Edition]

David Mitchell
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (376 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.99
You Save: $5.01 (33%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

Whispersync for Voice

Now you can switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible audiobook. Learn more or scan your Kindle library to find matching professional narration for the Kindle books you already own.

Add the professional narration of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: A Novel for a reduced price of $4.49 after you buy this Kindle book.

Kindle Delivers
Kindle Delivers
Subscribe to the Kindle Delivers monthly e-mail to find out about each month's Kindle book deals, new releases, editors' picks and more. Learn more (U.S. customers only)

Book Description

BONUS: This edition contains a The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet discussion guide.

The year is 1799, the place Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor, the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window onto the world, designed to keep the West at bay. To this place of devious merchants, deceitful interpreters, and costly courtesans comes Jacob de Zoet, a devout 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 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 of which will extend beyond Jacob’s worst imaginings.

Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best Books of the Month, July 2010: David Mitchell reinvents himself with each book, and it's thrilling to watch. His novels like Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas spill over with narrators and language, collecting storylines connected more in spirit than in fact. In The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, he harnesses that plenitude into a more traditional form, a historical novel set in Japan at the turn into the 19th century, when the island nation was almost entirely cut off from the West except for a tiny, quarantined Dutch outpost. Jacob is a pious but not unappealing prig from Zeeland, whose self-driven duty to blurt the truth in a corrupt and deceitful trading culture, along with his headlong love for a local midwife, provides the early engine for the story, which is confined at first to the Dutch enclave but crosses before long to the mainland. Every page is overfull with language, events, and characters, exuberantly saturated in the details of the time and the place but told from a knowing and undeniably modern perspective. It's a story that seems to contain a thousand worlds in one. --Tom Nissley

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Mitchell's rightly been hailed as a virtuoso genius for his genre-bending, fiercely intelligent novels Ghostwritten and Cloud Atlas. Now he takes something of a busman's holiday with this majestic historical romance set in turn-of-the-19th-century Japan, where young, naïve Jacob de Zoet arrives on the small manmade island of Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor as part of a contingent of Dutch East Indies officials charged with cleaning up the trading station's entrenched culture of corruption. Though engaged to be married in the Netherlands, he quickly falls in hopeless love with Orito Aibagawa, a Dutch-trained Japanese midwife and promising student of Marinus, the station's resident physician. Their courtship is strained, as foreigners are prohibited from setting foot on the Japanese mainland, and the only relationships permitted between Japanese women and foreign men on Dejima are of the paid variety. Jacob has larger trouble, though; when he refuses to sign off on a bogus shipping manifest, his stint on Dejima is extended and he's demoted, stuck in the service of a vengeful fellow clerk. Meanwhile, Orito's father dies deeply in debt, and her stepmother sells her into service at a mountaintop shrine where her midwife skills are in high demand, she soon learns, because of the extraordinarily sinister rituals going on in the secretive shrine. This is where the slow-to-start plot kicks in, and Mitchell pours on the heat with a rescue attempt by Orito's first love, Uzaemon, who happens to be Jacob's translator and confidant. Mitchell's ventriloquism is as sharp as ever; he conjures men of Eastern and Western science as convincingly as he does the unscrubbed sailor rabble. Though there are more than a few spots of embarrassingly bad writing (How scandalized Nagasaki shall be, thinks Uzaemon, if the truth is ever known), Mitchell's talent still shines through, particularly in the novel's riveting final act, a pressure-cooker of tension, character work, and gorgeous set pieces. It's certainly no Cloud Atlas, but it is a dense and satisfying historical with literary brawn and stylistic panache.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 2271 KB
  • Print Length: 497 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: B00HTCID60
  • Publisher: Random House; 1st edition (June 29, 2010)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036S4CZM
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,613 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
556 of 578 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This novel succeeds on so many levels - A+ April 28, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Brief summary and review, no spoilers.

The story begins in the year 1799, and most of the action takes place on the man-made island of Dejima in Nagasaki, Japan. This is the farthest outpost of the Dutch East Indies Company and foreigners are kept restricted to the island. It's the only contact point between Japan and the West.

This epic tale starts out dramatically with a young midwife helping a Japananese magistrate's concubine with a difficult birth. The midwife is named Orito Aibagawa, and she has a disfiguring scar on one side of her face. With the support of her father she begins to study medicine under the tutelage of the brilliant Doctor Marinus.

After this dramatic opening, we are introduced to Jacob de Zoet, a young Dutch clerk who has just arrived in Dejima. Jacob is hoping to work for 5 years and make enough money to go home and marry his fiancee. He stands out not simply because he is so virtuous and decent, but also because of the color of his hair - bright red. Jacob will learn that his fellow merchants, supervisors and Japanese translators are not always to be trusted, and that things are not always as they appear.

Other important characters in this novel include Ogawa Uzaemon, an honorable young translator who faces a difficult moral dilemma. We meet high-ranking Japanese officials including Magistrate Shiroyama and the malevalent Lord Abbot Enomoto. In fact there is a huge cast of characters, many with their own fascinating backstories. And did I mention a thieving monkey named William Pitt?

This book is wonderful on so many levels. It succeeds as a rousing old-fashioned adventure tale with nail-biting scenes taking place on both land and at sea.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
132 of 144 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A History of Isolation May 6, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
This is quite simply the best historical novel I have read in years, Tolstoyan in its scope and moral perception, yet finely focused on a very particular place and time. The place: Dejima, a Dutch trading post on a man-made island in Nagasaki harbor that was for two centuries Japan's only window on the outside world. The time: a single year, 1799-1800, although here Mitchell takes the liberties of a novelist, compressing the events of a decade, including the decline of the Dutch East India Company and Napoleon's annexation of Holland, into a mere twelve months. He plays smaller tricks with time throughout the novel, actually, alternating between the Japanese calendar and the Gregorian one, then jumping forwards and backwards between chapters. The effect is to heighten the picture of two hermetic worlds removed from the normal course of history. One is Japan itself (the Thousand Autumns of the title), a strictly hierarchical feudal society, deliberately maintaining its isolation and culture. The other is the equally hierarchical society on Dejima itself, comprised of Dutch merchant officers, a polyglot collection of hands, and a few slaves, whose only contact with the outside world is the annual arrival of a ship from Java. To these, Mitchell adds two more hermetic worlds: an isolated mountain monastery in the second part of the book, and an English warship in the third. Without spoilers, I cannot reveal how these connect, but Mitchell's writing will carry you eagerly from one event to the next.

The author has the rare ability to work on three narrative scales simultaneously: small, medium, and large.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
261 of 297 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lively and entertaining--ephemeral June 18, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The confrontation between east and west, between xenophobic Japan and anyone from the outside world but especially Christian Europe, has generated many histories and history-based fictions. Among the best known is James Clavell's Shogun, and by far the best overall is Shusaku Endo's Silence. I mention these because the opening chapters of David Mitchell's The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet instantly generate expectations based on those two novels, among others. The arrival of the young Jacob, a devout Christian, at the Dutch trading port of Dejima, adjacent to Nagasaki, is tense and threatening because he attempts to bring in a Psalter; if it is identified by the watchful Japanese officials, his least fate would be expulsion from Japan--but he might be subjected to far worse treatment. This begins Jacob's lengthy immersion in the stew of conflicting social and religious and cultural values that swirl in Dejima. In many ways, his worst conflicts are with his own countrymen, a variety of petty and sometimes grand thieves and swindlers whose frauds Jacob--an accountant who is assigned to bring the financial records of the Dutch East India post up to date and to some standard of honesty--inevitably is forced to reveal, with dire consequences because of the anger and hatred he generates when he undercuts the profitmaking schemes of the officers and employees of the shipping and trading companies. Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterpiece
This is one of my three favorite books ever written, and that includes "The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," and "Where I'm Calling From. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Lori Goldman
5.0 out of 5 stars Savor this book
The threads of this novel of love, duty, loss, and life weave through another place and time. The words are ripe and rich. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Kfarver
3.0 out of 5 stars Has some interesting historical & cultural elements but lacks heart
Author hops from one main character to another so that it is difficult to maintain strong connections or to truly care about what happens to any one of them. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Dr. June M. Reinisch
4.0 out of 5 stars It took nearly seven-eigths of the book to love it
I was sad when this book was over but it took me a loooong time to get there. The first third of the book has a slow moving plot. Read more
Published 6 days ago by Timothy
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating history but wandering at times
A fascinating look at circa 1800 in Nagasaki during a time of Dutch trading. The characters are well written, you really feel the tension between the cultures, but the author... Read more
Published 10 days ago by Erik Meyers
5.0 out of 5 stars The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet is an enormously entertaining and informative historical novel set in Nagasaki, Japan, at the turn of the 19th century. Read more
Published 10 days ago by Steven Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars really different--thoughtful
after getting around the Japanese pronunciation of names/words,the story goes on and you don't want it to end--a lot like some Swedish writers---good stuff
Published 16 days ago by Charles W. Jazina
5.0 out of 5 stars Falling in love with Jacob De Zoet
One can make a mistake by labeling too many books as "masterpieces." The first book I read by David Mitchell was "Cloud Atlas," and felt truly transformed. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Linda Sue Richards
4.0 out of 5 stars Historic Japan unveiled by Historic Dutchmen
Absolutely brilliant characterisation in minimal brushstrokes. Good and Evil;locals and foreigners;history and present evoked in stunning,beautiful language. Read more
Published 1 month ago by John Bestwick
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read!
Mr. Mitchell created the time and location and characters convincingly. I became immersed in their lives and the time. Thanks to the author!
Published 1 month ago by the studio
Search Customer Reviews
Only search this product's reviews

Book Extras from the Shelfari Community

(What's this?)

To add, correct, or read more Book Extras for The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet , visit Shelfari, an company.

More About the Author

David Mitchell's first novel, GHOSTWRITTEN, won the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and was shortlisted for the Guardian First Book Award. NUMBER9DREAM, his second, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. In 2003 he was selected as one of Granta's Best of Young British Novelists and his third novel, CLOUD ATLAS, was shortlisted for 6 awards including the Man Booker Prize and won the British Book Awards Best Literary Fiction and the South Bank Show Literature Prize. He lives in Ireland with his wife and daughter.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Search Customer Discussions
Search all Amazon discussions

Topic From this Discussion
Where to start with Mitchell: here or with Cloud Atlas?
I was faced with the same heart-stopping dilemma upon reading the rave reviews for The Thousand Autumns, which led me to look up the other books by Mitchell, where I discovered the equally as rave reviews and TomHanksian movie plans for Cloud Atlas. I decided to start with The Thousand Autumns... Read more
Jul 13, 2010 by A. McMillan |  See all 18 posts
List of Characters in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet
I just loved this book. I was hoping it would win. Its a great historic fiction.
Writing is superb. All I care is how much i enjoyed reading this book.
Nov 10, 2010 by Reva Sharma |  See all 9 posts
"Know"? No. Willing to entertain possibilities? Sure. First, I think the ability is revealed to show that Enomoto appears to have "magical" abilities. Certainly, a person able to kill small creatures with what appears to be nothing more than the power of his mind is not firmly... Read more
Jun 7, 2011 by Westsider |  See all 3 posts
Master of Go
That's a really great insight. I was trying to find some kind of over-arching them in 1000 Autumns, but unlike Cloud Atlas, it seemed to not have one or be very vague at best. Not to say I didn't love this novel, of course. But I think you really might be on to something... the novel... Read more
Jul 3, 2011 by Jonathon |  See all 5 posts
anyone know?
It's not made explicitly clear, Kevin, but the most reasonable implication is that the captain in Zoet saw his own son Tristram, also a redhead who died bravely in battle.
Aug 20, 2010 by Martin Zook |  See all 5 posts
Did Shuzai Betray Ozaemon? Be the first to reply
Start a new discussion
First post:
Prompts for sign-in

Customers Who Highlighted This Item Also Highlighted

Look for Similar Items by Category