This was a great historical novel focusing on just a few characters and a short span of years. It tells the tale of Dutch clerk Jacob de Zoet, the pious son of a deacon, and his unexpectedly long stay at the Dutch trading post of Dejima, at the time (late 18th/early 19th century) the West's only contact with Japan. De Zoet is the main character, but the novel switches POVs throughout, with the middle third focusing mostly on Japanese characters. It's a long, complex story full of love, betrayal, and cultural misunderstandings, ending with a naval attack based on an actual historical incident. There are vivid, sometimes literally poetic descriptions of everything from trees and Nagasaki Harbor to the fellows hauling chamber pots, and some quite brilliant internal monologues, which earned this book its Booker Award nomination. If you like historical fiction and character dramas, I highly recommend this one.