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Cover The Thousand Autumns Of Jacob De Zoet (David Mitchell, 2010)May has almost ended and I have read just 1 book this month (next to the The Pillow Book read-along, that is). But it was FABULOUS! I’ve been reading the long expected new novel by David Mitchell: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de ZoetCover Blind Willow, Sleeping WomanI already told you a little about it in a Sunday Salon earlier this month and you can find a quote in my post about new bento goodies. I’m working on a review but it’s not the only blogpost that needs to be written and I don’t seem to have enough time on my hands. It’s #3 on my todo list: first I need to focus on a buddy-review of Murakami’s Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman with Elsje and next is somethingIcan’ttalkaboutyet ;)

Things I’m looking forward to this week

JLC4 logo gicleeOn Tuesday a new Japanese Literature Challenge is setting of! I’ve been looking forward to it very much since I finished the 3rd edition in January :) Er.. I am a bit embarrassed to admit I still haven’t written 2 of my reviews, nor a wrap-up post :\

I hope to finish Sei Shōnagon’s The Pillow Book during those 6 months of JLC4 (150 of 342 pages left) and I also plan to read the next 5 books:

  • 'Pinball, 1973' has arrived!Silence by Shusaku Endo (Japanese Book Group Read for June 28th) – 306 pages
  • The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki (JLit Read-along from July – September) – 530 pages of small print
  • Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata (a gift of velvet) – 142 pages
  • Hear the Wind Sing by Haruki Murakami – 130 pages
  • Pinball, 1973 by Haruki Murakami (acquired this week through a bookswap with tanabata from In Spring It Is The Dawn, one of my favourite weblogs) – 179 pages

This means I need to read a book a month (amounting to 1437 pages in total)… Gotta speed up!
ETA: the challenge will run from June 1st – January 30th 2011 so that gives me 2 months extra ;)

If you’d like to join the challenge as well (you actually only need to read one book by a Japanese author!) I can recommend Be With You (Takuji Ichikawa), one of my 2 favourite reads of 2009: The Old Capital (Yasunari Kawabata), The Housekeeper and the Professor (Yoko Ogawa) and any book by Haruki Murakami or Kazuo Ishiguro.

Program guide & tickets opera WakeThe other MAJOR EVENT I’m looking forward to is a trip to Teylers Museum in Haarlem next Saturday, where I’ll be listening to David Mitchell talking about his inspiration for Dr. Marinus in The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet.

Of course I’ll also have my copy signed, together with our program guide of the opera Wake for which Mitchell wrote the libretto. I hope I won’t be tongue-tied this time… As a non-smoker I need to ask him not to draw a joint — he did that twice before when we got our books signed LOL.

The Pillow Book

Arrived at entry: 85/86
Entries read since last time: 25
Edition: 1986 Dutch translation of Ivan Morris’ Penguin edition: Het hoofdkussenboek van Sei Shōnagon (transl. from English by Paul Heijman)

I’m enjoying Sei Shōnagon’s book more than before. Although I’m really more of a plot-reader I like to learn about the culture & court life of 10th century Japan. I was surprised to find out that Shōnagon was not just writing her journal out of her own initiative but that ‘people’ were expecting her to write everything down and not leave anything out… (entry #67). Also, there are more ladies called Shōnagon among the courtesans: Gen Shōnagon and Shin Shōnagon. Does the name mean something special relating to court? Do the women get a new name (pseudonym) once they enter the Empress’s circle? I hope to find out someway! Maybe you can tell me?

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 ;)


I just heard that my favourite author David Mitchell is writing the libretto for a memorial opera to be premiered in Enschede on May 13th 2010.

On that day it will be 10 years ago (already!) that a fireworks storage facility exploded in the middle of a residential area. The disaster has (of course) been burnt into our collective memory, known as the vuurwerkramp. You can ask anybody where (s)he was when it happened and they’ll tell you. The JFKennedy effect.

The opera, called Wake, is composed by Klaas de Vries and will be performed by — this is getting even better! — the Nationale Reisopera, led by conductor Reinbert de Leeuw! I’ve been to two fabulous performances of this company: The Turn of the Screw (a story by Henry James) and The Mikado (by Gilbert & Sullivan).

It’s terrible to feel so positively thrilled about something that’s supposed to remember a tragic event. But I can’t help myself! If there’s only one thing I can get or even do next year — THIS IS IT.

Maybe it’s a small consolation that something as special and exciting like this is being done in memory of what happened. Although I should add that the story line is quite universal: the lives of 18 ordinary people in an apartment building (in an unidentified city), change dramatically after a disastrous event.

Sounds like a David Mitchell book alright ;) Especially when you know it will be presented in a mix of opera, mystery play, moving images and literary fiction. Yay! Can I go now, please? A year is a long time to wait, even if it’s for something this good. Did you know that Mitchell’s new novel is said to be published by Random House in spring 2010 as well?? Erm, I guess I should correct my earlier assertion that I have only wish for one thing next year… :\ Anyway, I’ll just have to be very patient for now :(

Oh wait, did anyone ask where I was at the moment of the explosion..? Visiting relatives in Toronto, Canada. And it was my brother-in-law who told me (in the kitchen area). There you have it: a past, present and future post in one ;)

Gnoe goes ExtraVeganza!


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