The Gift of Rain
Memories of books, which I hold responsible for first igniting my imagination and fascination with the place, inevitably also spring back. The most memorable are Lord Jim and Somerset Maugham’s Casuarina Tree and Other Stories but perhaps the latt...more
"Like the rain, I had brought tragedy into many people's lives but, more often than not, rain also brings relief, clarity, and renewal. It washes away our pain and prepares us for another day, and even another life. Now that I am old I find that the rains follow me and give me comfort, like the spirits of all the people I have ever known and loved."
Tan Twan Eng may not be a great prose stylist or even come close to being one. He may falter when it comes to subtlety and fail at inserting appropr...more
In 1939 sixteen-year-old Philip Hatton, who is half Chinese and half British, doesn't feel that he fits in anywhere. He becomes friends with another outsider Hayato Endo, who is a Japanese d...more
This book is clearly a mixed bag for me. It is in short about Philip, the son of a British father and Chinese mother, and his relationship with his Japanese sensei. It takes place in Malaya during WW2 when the Japanese occupied the country, sending the British running for their lives. The friendship between Philip and his older Japanese teacher, his sensei, begins before the occupation, before Philip ever became aware of the conflict of interests that will arise between the Malayan in...more
"The Gift of Rain spans decades as it takes readers from the final days of the Chinese emperors to the dying era of the British Empire, and through the mystical temples, bustling cities,and forbidding rain forests of Malaya." In 1939, sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton - the half-Chinese, half-English youngest child of the head of one of Penang's great trading families - feels alienated from both the Chinese and British communities. He discovers a sense of belonging in his unexp...more
Lots of description, but it's lush and luminous and evokes a sensuous sense of place. I enjoyed the characterizations (especially of the narrator). Philip Hutton is a sympathetic character, as he is torn between two ways of looking at, and living, life: accepting our non-control, and recognizing that we make choices. I was gl...more
When the Japanese occupy the island during World War II, concerns for personal and family safety lead to treachery and betrayal among t...more
I wept for the staggering grief in Phillip Hutton's life, and I applauded the young man who set forth to do the right thing, no matter how murky that might be.
In addition to the great story, the author did a stellar job with invoking the setting a...more
This is a beautifully written story about love and loyalty, friendship and family. Set during World War II amid the Japanese occupation of Malaya, there is a rich blend of cultures and conflicts, personal and global. The narrator, Philip, is a child of dual heritage (British and Chinese) who recounts his struggle to find his place in a chaotic world. From a vantage point some 50 years after the War, he explains his past actions leading to his decisions to work with the Japanese to a...more
I do not know much about Chinese, Japanese, Malay or British history (much less so of any of the religions or martial arts)-so there were a few things that I didn't feel like I completely understood-but the story w...more
Another reviewer has criticised the book for relying too much on events and the environment, rather than the characters. I'd disagree. In fact, I'd say the isla...more
On the content side, it fulfilled that wish. Set in Penang 1939, all its streets, peoples and history seemed authentic as I have walked many of these streets and seen many of the sites mentioned....more
“…the great human capacity for choosing not to see.”
“Do not let your ties to the past – or fear of the future – direct the course of your life, becaus...more
When the novel opens a surprise visit from a stranger forces Philip Hutton to look back on the changes that over took his life fifty years earlier when he was a young man. It w...more
Penang in 1939 is home to young Philip Hutton. A loner, the half-Chinese, half-English Philip feels he belongs to...more
"I was born with the gift of rain, an ancient soothsayer in an even more ancient temple once told me.
This was back ina time when I did not believe in fortune-tellers, when the world was not yet filled with wonder and mystery. I cannot recall her appearance now, the woman who read my face and touched the lines on my palms. She said what she was put into this world to say, to those for whom he prop...more
But I do not like the "saga" style – you have to read the story of the whole family, in this case, from the final days of the Chinese Emperors till the end...more
Throughout his childhood, Philip f...more
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