Summer of The Thousand Autumns

After enjoying the narrative fireworks on display of Cloud Atlas Ghostwritten, Number9Dream and Black Swan Green, my ears have been cocked for news of David Mitchell’s next novel.   The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, set (like Number9Dream) in Japan — but this time in late 18th century —  is slated to appear in June, and now an excerpt has been posted by Random House.  Here’s a sample:

Dr Maeno addresses the chamberlain: ‘To help save Miss Kawasemi’s life, I must disregard the Magistrate’s orders and join the midwife inside the curtain.’

Chamberlain Tomine is caught in a dangerous quandary.

‘You may blame me,’ Maeno suggests, ‘for disobeying the Magistrate.’

‘The choice is mine,’ decides the chamberlain. ‘Do what you must, Doctor.’

The spry old man crawls under the muslin, holding his curved tongs.

When the maid sees the foreign contraption, she exclaims in alarm.

‘ “Forceps”,’ the doctor replies, with no further explanation.

The housekeeper lifts the muslin to see. ‘No, I don’t like the look of that! Foreigners may chop, slice and call it “medicine”, but it is quite unthinkable that—’

‘Do I advise the housekeeper,’ growls Maeno, ‘on where to buy fish?’

Click here to read the full excerpt.  We’re looking forward to more.

-BILL TIPPER