“Black Swan Green,” David Mitchell’s fourth novel concerning a year in the life of 13-year-old Jason Taylor, reads like a first novel with its autobiographical backdrop and references to 1980s British pop culture, advertisements and brands. “The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet” returns Mitchell to Japan, setting for “number9dream” and for the first chapters of “Ghostwritten.”

However, this Japan is over 200 years old and the location is not postmodern Tokyo but the artificial island of Dejima, home to Dutch traders in Nagasaki Bay during the Kansei, Kyowa and Bunka eras (1789-1817).

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.