The Garden of Evening Mists
(This is going to be a long review because I have too many things to say. I just hope it's coherent.)
Have you ever sat in a dark room listening to an intricate piece of music (like Sergey Rachmaninoff's 'Tears') and experienced a deep-seated sadness when the last note died off??
Reading The Garden of Evening Mists felt like that.
This book took me on a journey. It was turbulent and tranquil, beautiful and ugly - all at the same time - and when it was over, I found myself sitting by the ...more
"For after the rain, when with never a stain
The pavilion of Heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams, with their convex gleams,
Build up the blue dome of Air
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the tomb,
I arise, and unbuild it again." - P.B. Shelley
The heron preens itself majestically, perched delicately at the edge of the pond, having found the familiarity of a home at last after miles of mateless flight. Gold-fl ...more
“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting." -- Milan Kundera
In the evening when the clock strikes six, to the rampant chirping of sparrows the church bells ring, filling the languid air with its magnificence. These days the regal resonance of the bells is buried under the boisterous traffic, yet when the sparrows chirp at six in the evening, I know the bells are ringing. When memories flood within and tears swell up in the eyes, I love sitting by the ocean; ...more
Are all of us the same, I wonder, navigating our lives by interpreting the silences between words spoken, analyzing the returning echoes of our memory in order to chart the terrain, in order to make sense of the world around us?"...the heart of a contemplative state", in Tan's words, would have worked as a subsidiary title. Forbearing all contemptuous accusations of New Age influence, of course, for everyone knows that acceptable enlightenment may only be found in the dry and musty cacophonies ...more
How odd, then, that I was so captivated by Garden of the Evening Mist, which is in many ways about the impermanence of individuals – the subjugation of self to become in closer alignment with nature and the flow of life – and the dominance of memory.
Our narrator is retired Supreme Court Judge Teoh Yun Ling, the physically maimed sole survivor of a brutal wartime ...more
If only the characters had as much life as the herons, tea plants, jungle, etc.. But no, none of the peripheral characters -- Magnus, Emily, the narrator's family, Fredrik, Ah Cheong -- are more than cardboard. As for the main characters, Aritomo -- the Japanese gardener, printmaker, tatoo ar ...more
And here I am, this week, with the perfect example of just how pertinent those flippant remarks might be. Tan Twan Eng made a superb beginning. He made a superb ending. Things just got ever so slightly lumpy in the middle.
On a mountain ...more
The most important sentence in the book, for me, is on Page 223(soft cover): "There was no need to talk much now - we understood each other's shades of silence."
And how precisely this sentence describes the events in the lives of all, but most importantly, the two main ...more
This is an exquisite novel of time and memory. (You know, if ...more
Garden of evening mists it is history of South-East Asia in a nutshell. It’s a reminder of uncomfortable truths and shameful crimes . Hell of colonialism , the cruelty of the Japanese army massacring Malaysian , Chinese , English , the back-breaking labour camps for war prisoners or as they were called the guests of the emperor . What a cruel euphemism . This is callousness of British authorities and leaving the Malays to their fate . It is the Communist partisans and stories about the legen ...more
But she is deeply scarred by her experience. So much so that at first it seemed that the perspective that we were getting from her ...more
IF you decide you DO want to read it, do not pick the audiobook narrated by Anna Bentinck!!!!! The book is set in three different time periods. This is more confusing in an audiobook than in a paper book. I do NOT like the narration. There are Chinese and Japanese cha ...more
Publisher summary: After studying law at Cambridge 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, ...more
I will dance to the music of words, on more time
This exquisitely written novel had me at hello. The dedication reads:
Sonder jou sou hierdie boek dubbel so lank en halfpad so goed wees. Mag jou eie mooi taal altyd gedy.
An unexpected ode to my beautiful language.
Even without the Afrikaner influence in this book, I would still have savored every word of The Garden of Evening Mists. For me this multilayered work of historical fiction focuses on themes of love and loss and on forgiving yourself and ...more
A few years back, Tan Twan Eng's novel The Gift of Rain was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize and I remember thinking how very not cool it was that it didn't go on to make the shortlist. That was the year that Anne Enright won for her The Gathering, which I didn't really care for; it was also the year I was introduced to the work of Mohsin Hamid (The Reluctant Fundame ...more
I bought it a few weeks ago (the UK edition as I could not wait for the US edition) and when opening it I almost could not put it down. When the time came to read the book it had the same mesmeric quality from the first paragraph.
"On a mountain above the clouds once lived a man who had been the gardener of the Emperor of Japan. Not many people would have known of him before the war, but I di ...more
So here it is.
1. I am not going to spoil the book. Unlike every review I have read, I am not ...more
Perhaps they don't have Karate Kid reruns in Malaysia. This would explain Eng not understanding how deeply cliched the unlikely-student-seeks-stoic-Japanese-master-with-hidden-depths genre seems to me. But to the reader familiar with Daniel-san or the dread Cobra Kai, this novel becomes an incoherent potluck of unappealing characters, halfhearted plotlines and an ugly commitment to using authorial skill to blur the line between profound koans and meaningless ...more
The book is a thoughtful, beautifully written exploration of art, brutality (the narrator lo ...more
This is the story of a garden and of the man and woman who made the garden. It is a story about remembering, and a story about forgetting. As in all gardens, there is death and de ...more
Yun Ling and her sister Yun Hong were teenage prisoners in a Japanese prison camp in the Malayan jungle during World War II. Although they had Chinese ancestry, they were admirers of Japanese gardens which they had visited ...more
More specifically: Tan Twan Eng's writing is lucid, simple, and poignant. Small things which are the stuff of everyday life become significant in a gentle flow of character and emotion. Huge traumas are expressed in small gestures and events. Healing takes place in unexpected ways as life goes on. The book is woven through with compassion and a wis ...more
Tan Twan Eng managed to create fragile human beings who have to survive in ...more
i just found it difficult as i had to read it rather slow. can't really put my finger on it as to why.
i'm south african, but i was born in japan and lived there for the first seven years of my life. so it was very interesting to read about the gardens and the tattoos - a lot of detail that i didn't know. i love history, so this was also a ve ...more
Let's take a look at this so-called beautiful writing, shall we? Examples all come from the first chapter (17 page ...more
Because The Gift of Rainis situated during WWII, it has a direct impact that yields tremendous intensity.
The Garden of Evening Mistsis more distanced. It deals with the fragility of memory. Jurist Yun Ling Teoh is losing her memories and hopes to preserve them through a written record. This is the purpose of history, and indeed of all w ...more
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Tan Twan Eng was born in 1972 in Penang, but lived in various places in Malaysia as a child. He studied law at the University of London and later worked as lawyer in one of Kuala Lumpur’s most reputable law firms. He also has a first-dan ranking in aikido and is a strong proponent for the conservation of heritage buildings.
Tan Twan Eng talked about his background, his second novel, and his writing...more