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.

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 28-Sep-11 22:33:04

Brilliant answers - thank you so much David. <off to bed to get some more chapters in>

DavidMitchell Wed 28-Sep-11 22:21:43

TillyBookClub

A fascinating discussion night - thanks to everyone for your questions.

David, thank you very very much indeed for coming on and for your thoughtful and insightful answers. Looking forward to seeing what you write next. Please come back and talk about it, whatever it is. Has been a joy and delight to have you here.

Good luck with it all and thanks again.

My pleasure - and thanks to everyone for the thoughtful questions.

DavidMitchell Wed 28-Sep-11 22:18:48

CalatalieSisters

Thanks very much for the webchat. It is a real joy to have hundreds of pages of such a beautiful book to look forward to.

bless you. It was my pleasure.

DavidMitchell Wed 28-Sep-11 22:17:57

OliviaMumsnet

Just popping by late as usual

Hello David,

Thanks for joining us.

I am completely mortified that I am so behind on your book which I'm reading on my kindle.

Do you like the idea of e-books rather than hard/paperbacks?

I also sometimes listen to audio books at night which gives me more of a chance to get through things.
I have just looked to see how long the THOUSAND AUTUMNS audio version is , and it's over 18 hours!
Have you heard it? Were you pleased with it?

<fervently wishes she could have asked a better, cleverer, more insightful and literary questions and remembers she needed to have read the book>

Forgot your ebook Q, Olivia - yes, they are fine by me, tho' I'm still a book man myself. Reading can be a meditative, intense - spiritual? - experience, and I prefer the vehicle of reading to be an artefact rather than just the words. Not a very rational standpoint I know, and no doubt it shows my age, but it's how I feel. (Tho' as I lugged 10 books around Iceland in my backpack last months, I wasn't too sure...)

CalatalieSisters Wed 28-Sep-11 22:16:39

Thanks very much for the webchat. It is a real joy to have hundreds of pages of such a beautiful book to look forward to.

beequeen Wed 28-Sep-11 22:15:14

I'm listening to the audiobook while running, and it's the best motivation I've ever had to get out there (and distracts me from the pain)

sfxmum Wed 28-Sep-11 22:15:07

''The job of putting together sentences, sentences which - we hope - have no faults, no cracks, no cruddy bits sticking out - that's a source of the deepest satisfaction for me.''

and it shows many thanks for a brilliant chat

<goes off to dig Independent People from the To Read mountain>

A fascinating discussion night - thanks to everyone for your questions.

David, thank you very very much indeed for coming on and for your thoughtful and insightful answers. Looking forward to seeing what you write next. Please come back and talk about it, whatever it is. Has been a joy and delight to have you here.

Good luck with it all and thanks again.

DavidMitchell Wed 28-Sep-11 22:12:58

dear Olivia Mumsnet,

really nice you could join us - I know how busy any mum is (and dads can earn their busy stripes too). 18 hours of audio book? Holy Disc-changer, Batman. Ideal for commutes, or house-painting, or situations where you are physically occupied but mentally free. (To answer your question, I listened to segments, and was pleased with the quality of the readings - hearing your work spoken brings lines to life in unexpected ways - but I didn't actually listen to all 18 hours. Entre nous.)

OliviaMumsnet

Just popping by late as usual

Hello David,

Thanks for joining us.

I am completely mortified that I am so behind on your book which I'm reading on my kindle.

Do you like the idea of e-books rather than hard/paperbacks?

I also sometimes listen to audio books at night which gives me more of a chance to get through things.
I have just looked to see how long the THOUSAND AUTUMNS audio version is , and it's over 18 hours!
Have you heard it? Were you pleased with it?

<fervently wishes she could have asked a better, cleverer, more insightful and literary questions and remembers she needed to have read the book>

natto Wed 28-Sep-11 22:12:53

Yes, I have tried it and it's probably the least appetising vegetarian food I've ever eaten. Thanks a lot for answering my question, and keep up the good work!

DavidMitchell Wed 28-Sep-11 22:08:20

natto

Hi David, I love the books of yours that I have read, and am enjoying reading your answers here tonight. You are brilliant at creating worlds in which the reader can become immersed, great for reading whilst commuting!
Just wondering how the success of Cloud Atlas affected you? Do you feel extra pressure when writing now, or are you just enjoying it?

thanks Natto - did you know you are named after fermented soy beans which taste of stilton, often mixed into rice by the Japanese?

I had a slow immersion into the swimming pool of literary reputation, so I never had to handle instant fame, luckily for me. I think I have evolved pressure-ignoring skin, so when it's just me and the book I'm working on, I can focus on the book I'm working on. I enjoy writing very much. The job of putting together sentences, sentences which - we hope - have no faults, no cracks, no cruddy bits sticking out - that's a source of the deepest satisfaction for me.

DavidMitchell Wed 28-Sep-11 22:04:23

Rosy

No question, but I just wanted to say that I loved "Black Swan Green". The description of the newsagents, with loads of stuff no one ever buys really reminds me of the shop I work in, unfortunately! The dialogue of 1980s high school was spot on, too - thankfully kids don't seem as cruel anymore.

I can't help but wonder what sort of shop you work in, Rosy - tho' I guess you must sell some units, otherwise the shop wouldn't exist. Thanks for your remark about my dialogue, and here's hoping humaneness is a cooler personality-facet for contemporary kids.

DavidMitchell Wed 28-Sep-11 22:01:52

TillyBookClub

Only a few minutes to go - David, are you happy to answer the remaining unanswered questions and then we'll call it a day?

sure Tilly -
I'll answer Rosy and Natto and apologise to those whose Qs have gone unanswered this time...

DavidMitchell Wed 28-Sep-11 22:00:32

Filmbuffmum

So glad I didn't forget about this! As the mother of two young sons, I loved Black Swan Green and felt that it really gave me some insight into how it might feel to be a boy!
I'm rather nervous about the filming of Cloud Atlas and was wondering how much input you had into the adaptation process? I did a course on film adaptations once, and can only really remember feeling satisfied with the film version of Joyce's short story The Dead, otherwise concluded that the cliche about good books making poor films and vice versa was largely true. Have you see the finished version yet, and do you feel it captures your internal view of the book, and does a writer even have such a thing, or is it modified by critical and reader responses?
Hope to still be up and available at 9pm (insomniac 2 year old is messing up my evenings!!)

Hope your insomniac is in dreamland, Filmbuffmum -

I had very little input into the film, which was fine with me - screenwriting is a different art to novel-writing, and it would be arrogant to think I could do both. But I have met the Waciowskis and Tom Tykwer - the directors who also wrote the script for the film - and I respect them as writers very much. Also I attended the cast read-thru of the script in Berlin about a month ago, and at least on paper the film worked very well. It doesn't follow the book too slavishly, which is where a lot of film adaptations go wrong. Does a writer have an internal view of a book? I guess, though I wrote the thing 10 years ago now, so I'm not sure what my view was... yes, I think it is modified by the world's view of the book, unless you live as a total hermit and avoid ever encountering the world's view of the book. A tall order in our linked-in twittering age...

Only a few minutes to go - David, are you happy to answer the remaining unanswered questions and then we'll call it a day?

LongStory Wed 28-Sep-11 21:59:46

ahhh grammar - it's late!

LongStory Wed 28-Sep-11 21:59:21

Thanks for letting on the links between the stories and the way you let the reader travel time and space to something new (when the reality of daily life is rather very boring for many of us). Keep up the good work - it's much appreciated. Now wishing I'd managed to squeeze that extra hour out of the day to think up some more questions - they'll all occur to me tomorrow!

natto Wed 28-Sep-11 21:58:43

Hi David, I love the books of yours that I have read, and am enjoying reading your answers here tonight. You are brilliant at creating worlds in which the reader can become immersed, great for reading whilst commuting!
Just wondering how the success of Cloud Atlas affected you? Do you feel extra pressure when writing now, or are you just enjoying it?

Rosy Wed 28-Sep-11 21:58:20

No question, but I just wanted to say that I loved "Black Swan Green". The description of the newsagents, with loads of stuff no one ever buys really reminds me of the shop I work in, unfortunately! The dialogue of 1980s high school was spot on, too - thankfully kids don't seem as cruel anymore.

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 28-Sep-11 21:55:41

Just popping by late as usual

Hello David,

Thanks for joining us.

I am completely mortified that I am so behind on your book which I'm reading on my kindle.

Do you like the idea of e-books rather than hard/paperbacks?

I also sometimes listen to audio books at night which gives me more of a chance to get through things.
I have just looked to see how long the THOUSAND AUTUMNS audio version is , and it's over 18 hours!
Have you heard it? Were you pleased with it?

<fervently wishes she could have asked a better, cleverer, more insightful and literary questions and remembers she needed to have read the book>

I'm strangely excited at the prospect of exploring a whole new area of fiction! Thank you for the recommendations smile

beequeen Wed 28-Sep-11 21:55:36

Interesting that you say that you'd rather read about a subject you know little about - I tend to agree with you, and I love the 'educational' aspect of historical fiction, but as the mother of a 13 year old and living not that far from the Malverns was absolutely haunted by Black Swan Green

DavidMitchell Wed 28-Sep-11 21:52:04

beequeen

Hello David
I am impressed by your ability to jump from genre to genre, when so many writers tend to stick to a fairly narrow range.
Given that your previous books have been set in such a variety of backgrounds, what first inspired you to write about 18th century Japan? It is not after all a very well-known area of history (to the average British person at least).

Thank you beequeen bzzzz. The fact that 18th century Japan isn't much known about or written about was attractive - fewer competitors! - and the fact that I wanted to write about Dejima, this odd laboratory where East was entangled with, fascinated by and fearful of West, dictated the period - Dejima stopped existing in the 1850s. As a reader, I'd rather read about a time and place I know little about than those I know a lot about, and every writer is guided by his or her inner reader...

DavidMitchell Wed 28-Sep-11 21:47:35

browneyesblue

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

I had a Japanese girlfriend in London in the early 90s, in my early 20s, an influential age when life is something of a board-game. Japanese fiction I could recommend includes 'The Makioka Sisters' by Juni'ichiro Tanizaki, 'The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle' by Haruki Murakami and 'Silence' by Shusaku Endo.

Yes, you're right, all writers shapeshift, but I guess I feel you are particularly adept at changing genre. Many other writers tend to write the same book just with different plots/timeframes. And I like what you say about Hopefully The Right One. Again, many other writers would say they had their voice, and perhaps aren't so aware/bothered whether its the right one.

Just quickly flagging up the questions from babybessa, filmbuffmum, southlondonlady and itsmeandmypuppynow which are much further upthread. Apologies if you're already onto them.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now