Join David Mitchell to talk about THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET, our September Book of the Month, on Wed 28 September, 9-10pm

(156 Posts)

September's Author of the Month has been named as one of the most influential novelists in the world. David Mitchell has twice been shortlisted for the Booker and his novels attract vast numbers of readers and glowing reviews alike.

His latest book, THE THOUSAND AUTUMNS OF JACOB DE ZOET, is a masterpiece of historical fiction. Set in 1799, in the Japanese trading port of Dejima (run by the Dutch East India Trading Company, it is Japan's only window to the outside world), the novel follows young Dutchman Jacob de Zoet's struggle to win his fortune, battle with corruption and begin his love affair with the beautiful but scarred Japanese midwife who is dangerously close to the local Samurai lord. Ambitious, poetic, pacy, full of detail and immaculately researched - this is a novel that creates a world so fully realised that you become utterly engulfed in its pages.

We have 100 free copies for Mumsnetters - find out more at our book of the month page.

And get your paperback or Kindle version now.

We're delighted that David will be joining us for the chat on Wednesday 28 September 9-10pm. Look forward to seeing you there.

JajasWolef Wed 21-Sep-11 14:40:00

only joking...

Hullygully Wed 21-Sep-11 15:06:49

read em all

no questions

just admiration

I'm so sad that your free copies haven't arrived - I'm chasing the publisher now. I will keep you posted... Can I urge you all to come anyway, you can ask David about any of his books, his writing life, books he recommends, anything you like. Please don't feel you have to have read Thousand Autumns..., the chat is open to anyone who wants to be there.

Speaking of which, it is time to gather a few advance questions - pop them up here and I will send on to David on Monday next week.

gailforce, I agree it is definitely slower at the beginning but then the pace speeds up and you're whipping along after a few chapters. Really worth keeping at it. Promise.

Very excited about next Wednesday and hope to see you all there.

Jajas Wed 21-Sep-11 21:29:11

ok, my question would be this.

After the very measured start, more exciting but yet still very detailed and real time middle, did the end have to all happen so quickly? I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it, but the last 40 years or so were very compressed!

I would like to know more about how David's love affair with all things Japanese came about. I love the measured pace and tone of his books, and they have piqued my interest in Japan, so where did it all begin for him?

I'm hoping this will lead to some recommendations so that I don't have to try and sneak a second question in

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 22-Sep-11 10:13:42

<marks place>
<looks at Kindle =2% of book read>
<ignores children and obstreperous Mumsnetters>

Hullygully Thu 22-Sep-11 10:29:07

Oh, and I love him very much.

CalatalieSisters Thu 22-Sep-11 12:39:42

Assuming I haven't got/read the book in time, I will be afraid to come back to the webchat next week because people naturally have to feel free to include spoilers.

So can I just ask a question now about Cloud Atlas? I enjoyed it very much indeed and, I guess like most readers, the feature I most enjoyed was the beautiful precise capture of very different voices, and very different forms of narrative. But, still, I was reading forward very eagerly, because we tend to think of novels as being very largely about progress to a resolution, about a satisfying ending that retrospectively flavours the whole story. In one way Cloud Atlas had a very satisfying ending, the completion of the narrative arc from one civilisation corrupted by an external/techno-rich set of outsiders, to another -- post-"smart" -- civilisation, in relation to which a new set of techno-rich outsiders were much more cautious, much more wary of disrupting something valuable.

That was a lovely circle, but still (and I don't mean any of this as a criticism) what was lovely was its structure rather than its content: the content was relatively slight, obvious -- a kind of truistic portrayal of the dangers of commercially led industrial progress and imperialism and the need to respect the integrity of traditional cultures.

So what I wanted to ask is: am I wrong to read a novel primarily for the sake of its content rather than its form, and to read enthusiastically forwards to the content of its resolution? I wanted the resolution, or rather the ideas conveyed in the resolution, to be more challenging, unexpected, counterintuitive, novel than they were. But what was beautiful about the book was its voice and its structure, and I should have been reading more "in each moment" (rather than reading forwards), as you might think of reading a poem rather than a novel.Was I looking in the wrong place? I don't think I've expressed any of that very well: what I am really thinking is something like : "Poems and novels are very much less different from one another than I thought before reading Cloud Atlas."

JajasWolef Thu 22-Sep-11 12:43:18

CalatalieSisters, I think you worded that perfectly. I think we do tend to desire a beginning, a middle and a conclusion in a novel but life very often isn't like that so not sure why we expect books to be thus so? Maybe because life isn't like that and we wish it were then we use books to fill that gap?

A Thousand Autumns is more true to the traditional format of a novel than Cloud Atlas which was almost exhausting to read but very exciting nontheless!

CalatalieSisters Thu 22-Sep-11 12:59:05

Just to clarify a bit, the ending of Cloud Atlas is very satisfying, but it achieves that because seeing the last portion of the structural arc of the book allows you to identify more clearly, retrospectively, the shape of that arc throughout the book, so it it is the book as a whole, rather than the culmination, that constitutes the satisfying resolution. So there is something about the book that defeats the forwards thrust with which I generally read novels: it seems much more poem-like, more still, than I thought a novel could be.

DazR Thu 22-Sep-11 14:29:49

Has anyone received a free copy yet???

gazzalw Thu 22-Sep-11 15:59:05

No!

sfxmum Thu 22-Sep-11 18:47:15

I have heard a lot of criticism that his books are about form rather than content but I really disagree the characters are engaging as is the story. and as a bonus there are moments which are unforgettable
and for sheer geekness I like that some characters go across novels

JajasWolef Thu 22-Sep-11 20:15:15

I love the travelling across novels concept too sfxmum!

Me too - it adds a feeling of continuity and balance. There is something very satisfying about it. When I recognise something from a different book, it makes me re-think (and sometimes re-read) what I read before.

SpeedyGonzalez Thu 22-Sep-11 23:44:26

Ahem. The last chapter of Cloud Atlas was the bit that I, er, didn't actually read. blush I just found that character a bit irritating and couldn't be bothered! <<runs for the hills>>

<<realises that by missing out last chapter, have shot self in foot so running for hills rather tricky>>

grin

Good news - I've spoken to the publishers and they are sending out another batch of 100 copies.

Did anyone at all receive theirs first time round? It's still a mystery what has happened to that lot. If you did get one, please let me know...cheers.

Just to say once more that the author chat is open to all questions, no matter which books you have or haven't read. So come along and don't be shy.

gazzalw Fri 23-Sep-11 11:29:08

Thanks Tilly - there seems to be a book gremlin doing the rounds as there's been a problem with the Pearson ones as well!

CalatalieSisters Fri 23-Sep-11 11:33:05

What a mystery. A hundred thousand autumns lost in the ether.

DazR Fri 23-Sep-11 11:54:28

Received my free copy today!! Not sure how far I will get before the chat.......

gazzalw Fri 23-Sep-11 13:10:47

Yes, I've just got a copy too postmarked 22/09! Hurrah!

CalatalieSisters Fri 23-Sep-11 13:15:06

Me too. <eyes down>

pithtaker Fri 23-Sep-11 14:05:58

My copy arrived today! smile

aristocat Fri 23-Sep-11 19:32:11

mine arrived today aswell ..... must get reading to try and finish it for next week grin

WhipMeIndiana Fri 23-Sep-11 20:20:14

congratulations on your books people...fingers crossed as Ive just finished black sun by graham brown, and labyrinth is waiting to be read next...unless a book shaped parcel arrives tomorrow, that is....

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