Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Cloud Atlas was my introduction to David Mitchell and I fell in love with his writing. In fact, I can honestly say that he's one of my favourites, with Cloud Atlas being especially memorable. I wrote a very, very short paragraph about it here. Why is he one of my favourites? Simple - because he can beautifully mix two of my favourite subjects into a fantastic read - fantasy and anything about Japan.

The year is 1799, the place Dejima in Nagasaki Harbor, the “high-walled, fan-shaped artificial island” that is the Japanese Empire’s single port and sole window onto the world, designed to keep the West at bay; the farthest outpost of the war-ravaged Dutch East Indies Company; and a de facto prison for the dozen foreigners permitted to live and work there. To this place of devious merchants, deceitful interpreters, costly courtesans, earthquakes, and typhoons comes Jacob de Zoet, a devout and resourceful young clerk who has five years in the East to earn a fortune of sufficient size to win the hand of his wealthy fiancĂ©e back in Holland.

But Jacob’s original intentions are eclipsed after a chance encounter with Orito Aibagawa, the disfigured daughter of a samurai doctor and midwife to the city’s powerful magistrate. The borders between propriety, profit, and pleasure blur until Jacob finds his vision clouded, one rash promise made and then fatefully broken. The consequences will extend beyond Jacob’s worst imaginings. As one cynical colleague asks, “Who ain’t a gambler in the glorious Orient, with his very life?”
- Official website

I have to say, the novel has one of the most disturbing-but-engaging opener I've ever read. A very graphic description of a complicated labour taking place - complete with illustration, mind you - is surely very attention grabbing, no?

When I first started reading, this novel reads like a historical fiction. A bit slow, with lots of characters that I sometime lost track of who's who. Eventually the story picks up once it reached Book II and evolved into a suspenseful thriller/mystery. There are lots things happening in this story - kidnapping and rescue attempts, surgeries and even a naval battle. It sure made for an interesting read, especially because Mitchell has built such a richly detailed world.

It has now been long-listed for the Booker Prize. I've thoroughly enjoyed reading this book and it's nomination did not come as a surprise.

Welcome Back Drog!

So Drog's tactic of letting Natte' know about her blog to spread the word around seems to be working. Some late night blog-hopping led me to her latest blog. Pergh ada blog simpan je, sekarang baru nak bagi tau :P

OK that's the short update for today :D I'll probably write on the book I'm reading when I'm done with it.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Selamat berpuasa~

Hm so what has happened in the 1+ month that I failed to update my blog? Let's see... I got to watch my two favourites battle it out on the field for the World Cup, with Spain finally grabbing the cup. Which reminds me, there's this one clip (translated) on youtube, showing Casillas being interviewed by his girlfriend. He's so sweet. That's all I can say. Try googling it LOL. I think it was shared around on facebook a couple of days after the final.

What else? Finally got a working Wii fit balance board. It's really fun to play! Definitely recommended for people looking for an interactive game.

Company annual dinner was on last Friday. Hmm it was an interesting experience, crawling through the traffic on the way back to Yat's sister's home and going to the hotel. The food was nothing to shout about, the entertainment was a bit old school and the mic was so loud that I couldn't figure out what the mc was saying 90% of the time. The saving grace would be the company of friends for the night.

Oh, I've settled my vacation plans for this year and next year. Hopefully nothing will clash with my plans. I'm used to planning ahead for 2-3 months, but with Air Asia, you've got to plan ahead for like... one year LOL.

Well, time to concentrate on my favourite show on NatGeo, Aircrash Investigation. Hope you readers in KL have the patience to go through traffic during Ramadhan LOL