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The Garden of Evening Mists Paperback – September 4, 2012
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“The Garden of Evening Mists offers action-packed, end-of-empire storytelling in the vein of Tan’s compatriot Tash Aw. His fictional garden cultivates formal harmony –but also undermines it. It unmasks sophisticated artistry as a partner of pain and lies. This duality invests the novel with a climate of doubt; a mood – as with Aritomo’s creation – of “tension and possibility”. Its beauty never comes to rest.”
“A rising star from Malaysia . . . Tan writes with breath-catching poise and grace. [The Garden of Evening Mists is a novel of] linguistic refinement and searching intelligence. . . . But for all its mission to ‘capture stillness on paper’. . . The Garden of Evening Mists also offers action-packed, end-of-empire storytelling.”
“The unexpected relationship between a war-scarred woman and an exiled gardener leads to a journey through remorse to a kind of peace. After a notable debut, Eng (The Gift of Rain, 2008) returns to the landscape of his origins with a poetic, compassionate, sorrowful novel set in the aftermath of World War II in Malaya…Grace and empathy infuse this melancholy landscape of complex loyalties enfolded by brutal history, creating a novel of peculiar, mysterious, tragic beauty.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW
“Like his debut, The Gift of Rain (2007), Tan’s second novel is exquisite…Tan triumphs again, entwining the redemptive power of storytelling with the elusive search for truth, all the while juxtaposing Japan’s inhumane war history with glorious moments of Japanese art and philosophy. All readers in search of spectacular writing will not be disappointed.”
"Beautifully written...Eng is quite simply one of the best novelists writing today."
"Grace and empathy infuse this melancholy lanscape of complex loyalties enfolded by brutal history, creating a novel of peculiar, mysterious, tragic beauty."
New York Times
"A strong quiet novel [of] eloquent mystery."
"“Beautifully written…Eng is quite simply one of the best novelists writing today."
About the Author
More About the Author
The Gift of Rain, his first novel, was Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. It has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Greek, Romanian, Czech and Serbian.
His second and latest novel, The Garden of Evening Mists, was published in September 2012. It has been Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012. Boyd Tonkin in The Independent called it:
'an elegant and haunting novel of art and war and memory...Tan writes with breath-catching poise and grace, linguistic refinement and searching intelligence...His fictional garden cultivates formal harmony -but also undermines it. It unmasks sophisticated artistry as a partner of pain and lies. This duality invests the novel with a climate of doubt; a mood - as with Aritomo's creation - of "tension and possibility". Its beauty never comes to rest.'
It has been translated/will be translated into German, French, Italian, Serbian, Spanish, Dutch, Polish, Taiwanese Chinese, Indonesian, Korean and Norwegian.
The Garden of Evening Mists won the Man Asian Literary Prize in March 2013.
In June it won the Walter Scott Prize 2013, from a shortlist of authors which included Hilary Mantel, Rose Tremain, Thomas Keneally, Pat Barker and Anthony Quinn.
The Garden of Evening Mists was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2014.
Top Customer Reviews
When the novel opens, sometime around 1989, Judge Teoh has just retired from her work on the Supreme Court in Kuala Lumpur and returned to the central highlands where she spent many years from her early teens until her late twenties. Though she has not been there for thirty-four years, she is seeking her spiritual home, a garden called Yangiri, which means "Evening Mists." Nakamura Aritomo, whom she knew many years ago, spent fourteen years developing this special garden according to the principles set forth in Sakuteiki, a book written in the mid- to late eleventh century. Though the garden has not been tended for many years, Yun Ling (Teoh) is determined to restore its original beauty: first, to honor the memory of Aritomo, whom she originally despised for his connections to Japan, and second, to honor the memory of her sister, who did not survive the work camp to which they were both consigned during the Occupation.
As the novel shifts back and forth chronologically, often quite suddenly, the complex political dynamics of Malaya from 1940 - 1945, and the horrors of the Occupation and later Emergency are revealed.Read more ›
After she completes her law studies in England, she returns to Malaysia to practice, serving as a prosecutor for the Malayan government in the trials of captured Japanese Army soldiers. Her sister's death continues to haunt her, and she decides to honor her sister's memory by building a Japanese garden, as Yun Hong loved them dearly. In 1951 she returns to the home of a family friend, Magnus Pretorius, a South African tea planter in Cameron Highlands in the Malayan state of Pahang, whose friend Nakamura Aritomo is a highly regarded gardener--and the former chief gardener to Emperor Hirohito of Japan. Yun Ling struggles to overcome her deep hatred of the Japanese, and works under Aritomo as an apprentice, helping him to rebuild his own garden while learning the craft from him.
However, the tranquil mountainous setting also hosts the Malayan National Liberation Army, a group of communist guerrilla soldiers who are at war with the colonial government during the Malayan Emergency.Read more ›
None of the main characters are "native" Malays, a long running, though minor, theme of the book. Boers, Japanese, Straits Chinese, British, there is a hodgepodge of people who have settled in this outpost of the British empire, but of native Malays we hear almost nothing, except a few stereotypically evil commies who rape and murder their way across the countryside as supposedly communist guerillas. I found that odd and rather off-putting, but was able to put that aside and concentrate on the motley crew in and around the tea plantation.
Told as a first person narrative by a woman who, as the book opens, unexpectedly retires from her position as a justice on the Malay Supreme Court, she returns from Kuala Lumpur to the tea plantation. She tells the story of her life, and narrates lives others have told her, roughly from the year before the Japanese invasion until she leaves the tea plantation during the height of the communist insurgency. This is a time of almost ceaseless conflict, particularly during World War II when the British abruptly abandoned the entire peninsula to the Japanese. There followed a notorious invasion, dominance and enslavement throughout the entire area. The narrator was sent, along with her sister, to a slave labor camp where the narrator barely survived.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This was an excellent read. It gave me much information about Malaysia during and post-WWII, of which I knew virtually nothing. Read morePublished 4 days ago by K.B.
Complex and beautiful. History, art, gardens and human resilience revealed and hidden. Luxurious read.Published 7 days ago by C. Jones
Beautiful writing. Multiple layered stories, with surprises around the corner with every turn of the page...much like a walk through an equisite Japanese Garden.Published 10 days ago by Reader
I enjoyed this book....but at times the flow was uneven. Very descriptive language.Published 19 days ago by Joan Conklin
did not love this- but my book club did! great condition and great servicePublished 19 days ago by Karen Phillips
Tan Twan Eng has become my favorite author. I love his writing and his thought provoking characters. There is a plot that captures my attention. Read morePublished 1 month ago by SOY
This book took me on historical journey as well as a wander through the art and loveliness of a life dedicated, a love entwined,a time Remembered.Published 2 months ago by linda herbert
A truly beautiful, serene story. A wonderful description of the beauty and psychology of Japanese gardens.
I vividly remember WW 11, so it brought back many memories.