Cover The Thousand Autumns Of Jacob De Zoet (David Mitchell, 2010)It has been pouring outside ever since I woke up, and what better way to start a Sunrainday than with a good book?

My current read is David Mitchell’s newest: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. I love it! It seems strangely familiar, but that might be because I have read about the isolated Dutch trading post on the artificial island of Deshima (Dejima) at the Nagasaki shore before. Or is it the sound of Mitchell’s voice that I came to know so well in his previous books?

David Mitchell is an acclaimed novelist, but there are still a few critics saying he’s not that special. One of the opinions held is that he doesn’t have a voice of his own. Well, I disagree! A sentence like:

The snow is scabby and ruckled underfoot. [p.254]

.. I immediately recognize as Mitchell’s! Of course I’ve heard him read in public twice, so I can hear his actual voice pronouncing the words — carefully, so as not to provoke his stammer ;)

And then there’s his choice of characters. Dare we anticipate meeting an acquaintance from one of his other stories? I cannot (and should not) say. Yes, I love ‘his master’s universe’ ;)

It’s may 2nd: one third of 2010 has already passed — can you believe it? I started the year wonderfully with several great books in row: Tresspass (Valerie Martin), The Best of Mutts (Patrick McDonnell), The Housekeeper and the Professor (Yoko Ogawa), The Rapture (Liz Jensen), In the Shadow of No Towers (Art Spiegelman) and Careless in Red (Elizabeth George).

In between I read the graphic version of ‘The Evenings‘ (Gerard Reve) which I found boring. That may have been an omen for the reading slump I fell in afterwards: I’ve spent ages in the last part of I Am a Cat (a classic by Natsume Sōseki; will I ever feel up to writing a review?) and couldn’t really get into pace with Sei Shōnagon’s The Pillow Book. Thankfully all is looking well again since mid-March: I’ve enjoyed reading Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman immensely (Haruki Murakami), as Her Fearful Symmetry (Audrey Niffenegger; review pending), and now David Mitchell. Even when I’m not reading my mind still roams 18th century Japan. I guess my 2010 book list will turn out to be really good!

If it will be as successful a year relating to my challenges… An update post will have to wait till another time — there’s not much to tell anyway ;)

How’s your reading year so far?

The Pillow Book

Arrived at entry: 66/70
Entries read since last time: 25
Edition: 1986 Dutch translation of Ivan Morris’ Penguin edition (transl. from English by Paul Heijman)

I know I’m not doing a great job at this readalong of Sei Shōnagon’s The Pillow Book. Mostly I do manage to keep up with the required entries (that actually sounds more as a chore than it is), but I cannot seem to find the time to post about it, or comment on tanabata’s weekly thoughts. I’m not even jotting down the quotes I want to keep in my notebook; so my copy is looking quite colourful with all the sticky notes sticking out. And this week I got behind schedule again — for which Mitchell is to blame! :) A grrl can’t have a better excuse than that though ;)

Mitchell uses the ancient Japanese calendar in some of the chapters of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet. That’s where appendix 1 of my translation Het hoofdkussenboek van Sei Shōnagon comes in handy :) I couldn’t be bothered much with the explanation of the complex system at first, but Mitchell changed that completely! Hooray for reading synchronisity ;) I can’t handle two books at the same time too well, but things like this are definitely an advantage :)

The Sunday Salon is a virtual gathering of booklovers on the web, where they blog about bookish things of the past week, visit each others weblogs, oh — and read ;)