The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell

I hesitate to mention this extraordinary novel because it’s not a quick or easy read. But the reward if you come under its spell is to be consumed by a time and place as foreign and fascinating as any you are likely to encounter. The time is 1800 and the place is Japan, specifically an outpost of the Dutch East India Company on a tiny island off the coast of Nagasaki. It’s an epic history, a haunting romance and without doubt the most imaginative fiction I’ve read in quite a while.

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