Friday, 30 July 2010

The Man Booker- A thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet

Here we go, book one of the long list.

But first, a disclaimer. I am not a book critic and I will be fumbling my way around here- normally my critique of a book is summed up by 'Loved it/hated it'....

And....I am hoping to get through the books before the award is announced and I will be deciding which one I would give the prize to. That doesn't mean that the book that I award most points to will be my 'winner', as I'll be thinking of the books in terms of what I think of as 'prizeworthiness'.

Jacob de Zoet is on a mission; a turn-of-the-18th century Dutchman, his only chance of earning enough to marry the woman he loves is to work as a trading company's clerk to Japan. There is but one problem- Jacob is an honest man and the theme of 'doing the right/honourable thing' is a thread that runs through this novel, causing him no end of problems. Falling in love with a Japanese woman, Orito, doesn't help matters much.

There is a lot of historical detail in this book. As someone who knows nothing of Japanese culture and history, it seemed accurate enough to me ;0) I really enjoyed the narrative and for the first time in a long, long time I had a book in my hands that I just didn't want to put down. There was just one wrong note for me- the 'device' (getting all scholarly here!!) that he uses to separate Jacob and Orito had me staring at he pages in perplexity and, frankly, annoyance. To me it seemed a contrivance that really spoiled the flow and 'believability' of the book. To say that I couldn't suspend my disbelief* is putting it mildly.

However, the rest of the book was so good that in time I manage d to forgive MItchell for this bum note.

Scores on the door- 9 out of 10

ETA: New scoring system

* I know, I know- the convention is 'suspending your belief', but for me it's always my disbelief that I have trouble suspending, and this is my blog ;0)

ETA: I haven't really given enough detail about the book I think, but I don't want to spoil it. IF there isn't enough detail for you, check out reviews on Amazon:0)


  1. I thought this was pretty good - his ability to create such a believable world is remarkable. Its a long read, but never falters. I would think it stands a good chance of winning the prize.