The two other books by Mitchell that I have read both employed a style more akin to linked short stories than cohesive novels, but in de Zoet he turns to the more traditional form of the historical novel. Now I'm a big fan of historical novels, so this really worked for me (although perhaps not for all, as Mitchell did not make the Booker shortlist this time around).
The story is set on Dejima, a trading island off the shore of Nagasaki, and involves the members of the Dutch East India Company. It's a fascinating fictionalization of a period and place little known. I highly recommend this book -- but beware, it is not a quick read!
After such a heavy book, I turned to some beautiful, sparse writing from one of my favorite authors -- Kent Haruf. Eventide is set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado and picks up, in a manner, where Plainsong left off. Haruf mesmerizes, throwing you into the lives of his characters which are so real and face such real problems, that you almost feel that you know them once the book is finished.
Haruf is a treasure, and not highly acclaimed enough in my opinion. Please give his books a try, I don't think you will be disspaointed.
And now for something entirely different -- Breakfast of Champions by my all time favorite writer -- Kurt Vonnegut. This book can really only be explained as dizzying. While the main story follows Dwayne Hoover's descent into madness, Kilgore Trout, the author, or Vonnegut's alter ego, is along for the ride -- or perhaps he's the one driving. It's all rather crazy and meta and wild -- plus Vonnegut's illustrations are sprinkled throughout. A fun, yet complex read.
Three books by three amazing authors. I have no idea what to read next, but I'm not sure it can possibly top these books.