This is not a pastoral book, nor a post-modern item with all of the conflict bred out of it and putting fancy word-play above plot in importance. We have story, and we have characters. These are major compliments for me. Another compliment: I haven’t thrown it out yet.
Jacob belongs to two worlds: Dutch and Japanese. He is exiled from one and can never belong to the other. Add to this some culture clashes and a monastery full of crazy monks, and you’ve got yourself a proper book.