Written by Malaysian novelist Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists has been recognised as one of the best books of the 21st Century by The Guardian.
The book takes shape in three parts as it narrates the life and experiences of the protagonist as a Japanese prisoner during World War II, and later as an apprentice of a Japanese gardener.
The book was published in January 2012 and is the author’s second novel, first being The Gift Of Rain in 2007. The Garden of Evening Mists was awarded the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2012 and the Walter Scott Prize under the Historical fiction category.
Unlike his Malaysian-Chinese compatriots, Tash Aw and Tan Twan Eng who have become well-known for novels which fit pretty squarely into the English-language, Ng Kim Chew writes in Chinese from a base in Taiwan. Slow Boat to China is a collection of his short stories, the first book of his—as far as I can tell—to appear in English.
That the book was published by Columbia University Press is an indication of the academic uses to which the volume can be put. Malaysian-Chinese literature even has its own name: mahua literature, whose origins go back the better part of a century.
Several of Ng’s stories takes place within this literary community and which in a somewhat self-referential way are about a writer writing about writing and writers. The opening story, “The Disappearance of M”, tells of the search for the anonymous author of a critically-acclaimed avant-garde novel written in Chinese plus English, Malay, Sanskrit and other languages. Ng pokes fun at the affectations of the literary class, their conferences, papers and pretensions: Read more
Tan Twan Eng’s award-winning novel set for English-language feature to be co-produced with HBO Asia.
Malaysia’s Astro Shaw has optioned Tan Twan Eng’s award-winning novel The Garden Of Evening Mists, which it plans to adapt as an English-language feature to be co-produced with HBO Asia. Read more
If Astro does it right and I think it can if it is serious about it, then the rewards can be great, writes columnist June Wang in The Star.
The Garden of Evening Mists is much loved by readers around the world and a well-crafted movie adaptation can only bring plenty of benefits to the nation.
Henry Tan, Astro’s chief operating officer for strategy, content and marketing, has decided to turn it a movie.
Here is one more author to join the bandwagon against the book pulping decision by the NLB Singapore.
Booker Prize shortlisted writer Tan Twan Eng has written an open letter to the National Library Board of Singapore in this regard:
Hello Fellow Readers and Book-Lovers,
Sometime in 2010 the National Library Board of Singapore (‘NLB’) requested my permission to excerpt 10 pages of The Gift of Rain for an anthology the NLB was planning to publish with the editorial expertise of a panel of leading academics from Singapore and South East Asia. I was, naturally, honoured to be asked, and I gave my permission.
Titles in translation dominate shortlist for world’s most valuable literary prize: The Telegraph
The only Asian writer to feature on the recently announced IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is Tan Twan Eng with his marvelous novel, The Garden of Evening Mists.
This year’s shortlist features 10 writers from across the globe, including five novels in translation from Argentina, Colombia, France, Norway and the Netherlands. The only title by a UK author to make the list is The Light of Amsterdam by Northern Irish novelist David Park.
Dina Zaman’s collection of short stories, King Of The Sea, bagged the top prize in the fiction category at Popular-The Star Readers’ Choice Awards, beating award-winning writer Tan Twan Eng’s The Garden Of Evening Mists.
With the culmination of a month-long voting campaign by the public, the announcement was made at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre yesterday to coincide with day one of this year’s BookFest@Malaysia, the annual nine-day book festival organised by the Popular Book Company.
Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng has won the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction for his second novel The Garden of Evening Mists.
He travelled from his home in South Africa to be at the ceremony in Melrose in the Scottish Borders.
He received his prize from the Duke of Buccleuch at a special event during the Borders Book Festival.
The Garden of Evening Mists is the first novel by an overseas writer to have won the four-year-old prize.
A new rule was introduced last year making books by authors from the Commonwealth eligible for entry.
The novel prevailed over a strong shortlist including Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, which has already carried off some of the UK’s most prestigious literary awards, and novels by English writers Rose Tremain, Pat Barker, and Anthony Quinn, and by Australian author Thomas Keneally.
Malay author Tan Twan Eng’s The Garden of Evening Mists, which was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker, glides on Zen awareness just as his 2007 Man Booker longlisted debut The Gift of Rain did. Like Gift, Garden is a luminous, imagistic and affecting narrative of conflict and intrigue — Malaya during the Japanese Occupation and Emergency — with characters that rip your heart not just in their loss or ache but in the choi ces they must make to survive, in their fierce steadiness when the world as they know it is shifting. They read as koans about how one can live with conscience and clarity when everything seems broken and bloodied, truth is elusive; even remembrance.
“If one steps out of time, what does one have? Why, the past of course, gradually being worn away by the years as a pebble halted on a riverbed is eroded by the passage of water.” (Gift)
Exploring flawed characters
I catch Twan in “a quiet place” while he is touring with his book in the U.K. and discuss these novels that try understand evil, look for humanity in wartime. “Moments in time when the world is changing bring out the best and worst in people. A character who doesn’t have hard choices to make doesn’t appeal to me as a writer and a reader,” says Twan. “I’m interested in exploring realistic and flawed characters. I don’t set out to judge or to preach morality, but to convey what all of us have to confront daily — our own flaws, our own weaknesses and strengths. If my books feel ambiguous, it’s because life is ambiguous. Nothing is in black and white, and this is what makes writing so fascinating and challenging. I’ve always wondered what I would do, if faced with certain alternatives: would I have the courage and the strength to make the right decision? I’m still looking for the answer.”