Reading guide for The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

A Novel

by David Mitchell

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell X
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2010, 496 pages

    Paperback:
    Mar 2011, 512 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Amy Reading
Buy This Book

About this Book

Reading Guide Questions Print Excerpt

Please be aware that this discussion guide will contain spoilers!

  1. David Mitchell once stated that his “intention is to write a bicultural novel, where Japanese perspectives are given an equal weight to Dutch/European perspectives." Do you believe he accomplished this goal in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet? How do you think the perspectives of each culture are portrayed, and are they given equal treatment?
  2. Jacob de Zoet is an honest, pious man, and has a difficult time coping with the corruption around him on Dejima. Discuss the significance of the psalter, and the impacts of his decision to smuggle it onto the island.
  3. One theme of the novel is the power of language -- how does it play into both authority and corruption in the interaction between Dutch and Japanese cultures?
  4. Alternatively, how do instances of common language unite characters in the novel?
  5. Vorstenbosch tells Jacob that “the orient is all about signals.” Discuss various mixed signals and miscommunications in the novel and their effects.
  6. What are your expectations of historical fiction? How do you think this book aligns and diverges with projected notions of the genre?
  7. Speaking of genre, what others genres do you see influencing this novel?  What does the novel change in each part?
  8. The novel is peopled with dozens of fascinating secondary and tertiary characters.  Who is your favorite and why?
  9. Discuss the concept of isolationism and how the novel's various settings and landscapes reflect it.
  10. If you were to land in Dejima in 1799, what would be the first thing you would do?


Unless otherwise stated, this discussion guide is reprinted with the permission of Random House. Any page references refer to a USA edition of the book, usually the trade paperback version, and may vary in other editions.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more


Today's Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Shadows of Berlin
    Shadows of Berlin
    by David R. Gillham
    David R. Gillham's latest novel, Shadows of Berlin, opens in New York City in 1955. Rachel, a young ...
  • Book Jacket: Trust
    Trust
    by Hernan Diaz
    Hernan Diaz's Trust is a work of fiction that is itself comprised of four very different works ...
  • Book Jacket: Let's Not Do That Again
    Let's Not Do That Again
    by Grant Ginder
    We have all dealt with inescapable, insufferable family members at some point, and the ones who say ...
  • Book Jacket: Atomic Anna
    Atomic Anna
    by Rachel Barenbaum
    If you had the opportunity to prevent one of the world's most horrific disasters, would you? What if...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Oh William!
by Elizabeth Strout
Pulitzer Prize winner Elizabeth Strout explores the mysteries of marriage and the secrets we keep.

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Metropolis
    by B. A. Shapiro

    "An ingeniously plotted hybrid social/suspense novel. Shapiro hits it out of the park."
    —Shelf Awareness

Who Said...

Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information on it.

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T S's T Limit

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.