The Garden of evening mist by Tan Twan Eng
Now this is the second book by Tan Twan Eng to make the booker lists ,his first was longlisted in 2007 .Tan Twan Eng grew up in various places in Malaysia ,eventually becoming a lawyer in the area of intellectual property .He then decide to become a full-time writer ,he published his first book in 2007 the gift of rain ,this book like the garden of evening mist was set in Malaysia and was about the Japanese control of the area in the second world war .This his latest also looks back on that time .
Every child longs for a larger-than-life uncle and, because I had none ,Magnus Pretorious became a figure of fascination to me ,although he hardly anything more than a vague presence in my life when i was growing up .What I knew of him I heard from my parents and from things they left unsaid broken-off twigs of conversations I picked up whenever I walked in on them ,and from what Magnus told me after I got to know him better
Early on remember her past .
So garden of evening mist is a complex book that brings together many themes ,secrets ,love and hate ,gardening and people .The garden in the title is being made by a famous Japanese gardener in Malaysia this is after the second world war and this garden is well crafted in the Japanese style of gardening called Sakkei borrowed scenery a Japanese style from the past that Nakamura Aritomo worked for the emperor in Japan caring for his gardens .
According to the lay of the land, and depending upon the aspect of the water landscape, you should design each part of the garden tastefully, recalling your memories of how nature presented itself for each feature. (tr. Inaji 1998:13)
A quote found on wiki about Shakkei
The other main character in the book is a Malaysian women Teoh Yun Ling she survived one of the hideous Japanese war camps during world war two and hates all things Japanese since then til she meets Nakamura .She is Nakamura apprentice ,this sets up a wonderful parallel of love and hate between these two characters and there initial frostiness .Throw in the fact that Malaysia itself is undergoing a civil conflicted and is descending into chaos,Tan has set up to a wonderful book that encompasses love ,loss and death and the remembrance of the dead .Also add his wonderful eye for the world around him the garden and surrounding area jumps of the page at times and you are transported to the garden of evening mist . You’ve got one of those books I have been crying out for on the booker lists a discovery.for me this alongside the Will Self I reviewed last week are equal favourites for me .
It was hard for me reading this book and its setting and time not to think back to Anthony Burgess Malaya trilogy set at the same time as this book is also set ,but that book was from the view of a British officer in Malaya ,this was the view of a native and the book is mostly told from Yun Ling view both at the time and looking back as an older women at the time .There was something about Eng style of writing that drew me in at times it reminded me of Romesh Gunesekera a writer I also discovered years ago when he was short-listed for the booker with his book reef .I think it was the style of prose , that harks back to the greats of English literature writer like Conrad and dickens (even burgess as I ve mentioned ) .I feel this is a sign of what makes a lot of Asian writers very readable to me as a reader , because in a way they are removed from the here and now of what is modern fiction in the uk and tend to have read the classics growing up so on the whole their style harks back to an old age of writing .It’s fair to say I loved this book probably the best book I ve read published in English this year or even recent years .
Have you read this book ?
Who is your favourite Asian writer ?