Know Your Booker!: Tan Twan Eng’s The Garden of Evening Mists

The_Garden_Of_Evening_MistsSo you think you know everything there is to know about Tan Twan Eng’s Booker nominated novel The Garden of Evening Mists? Test your knowledge against our GoodReads quiz here!

What’s it about?

The Garden of Evening Mists is described by the book’s publisher Myrmidon Books as follows:

Malaya, 1949. After studying law at Cambrige and time spent helping to prosecute Japanese war criminals, Yun Ling Teoh, herself the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle fringed plantations of Northern Malaya where she grew up as a child. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the Emperor of Japan.

Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in Kuala Lumpur, in memory of her sister who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses, but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice ‘until the monsoon comes.’ Then she can design a garden for herself. As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to her sensei and his art while, outside the garden, the threat of murder and kidnapping from the guerrillas of the jungle hinterland increases with each passing day.

But the Garden of Evening Mists is also a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? Why is it that Yun Ling’s friend and host Magnus Praetorius, seems to almost immune from the depredations of the Communists? What is the legend of ‘Yamashita’s Gold’ and does it have any basis in fact? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?

Who is Tan Twan Eng?

According to the bio on his official website:

Tan Twan Eng was born in Penang and lived in various places in Malaysia as a child. His first novel, The Gift of Rain, was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Greek, Romanian, Czech and Serbian. The Garden of Evening Mists is his second novel.

What does BookerMarks think of The Garden of Evening Mists?

Jackie (Review):”…this book gives you an interesting glimpse into some of the complicated history of the country of Malaya (now called Malaysia). It is such a strange combination of cultures (British and Chinese) and it is cool to see how they evolve into their own unique culture under the duress of war (first with the Japanese occupation during WWII then the invasion of the Communists soon afterward).”

Penny (Review): “The descriptions of the gardens and folk-tales were truly beautiful.”

Karli (Review): “The Garden of Evening Mists is a fascinating depiction of war-era Malaya – a period of WWII history that is often overlooked.”

Elizabeth (Review): “Overall, the premise of the book was impressive, as was the strength of Yun Ling.  The force working against the story, however, was its predictability.”

Aaron (Review): “The Garden of Evening Mists is a novel that should be experienced for its overwhelming ability to overpower one’s sense of time and place, but while the author’s command of the written word is astounding his story telling ability sadly lags just slightly behind.”

Michelle (Review): “The foreshadowing in the book was too precise.  It was like having one’s hand held down the path to the end of the book.  Nothing was left for the reader to figure out. ”

What do YOU think of Tan Twan Eng’s The Garden of Evening Mists? Sound off below or visit our GoodReads forum to submit your official rating for the book which will be added to our community long list standings!


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