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"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."
Twan Eng Tan 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 approp ...more
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
It has been exactly twelve days since the onset of monsoons. Not a single dry pair of clothes in the house and yet my enthusiasm is as jubilant as the freshly bathed leaves welcoming the cascading raindrops. After all I had waited for an entire month, my eyes widening at every passing water-laden cloud. The grey skies had fooled me and my despair had found its mate in the curled vermillion petals of the Gulmohar tree. The descendant of the Fabaceae heritage has a bittersweet legacy with the rain ...more
"Set in Penang, 1939, this book presents a story of betrayal, barbaric cruelty, steadfast courage and enduring love."
"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 al ...more
The Gift of Rain is a memoir, the journal of a young boy's coming of age amid the turmoil of WWII in Malaya, a lest-we-forget memorial to the victims of war crimes, a melancholy blues sung to a disappearing world : the exotic cauldron of races and cultures in colonial Penang that is being swallowed up by modern, impersonal highrise developments. I was ready to be enchanted right from the opening stanza, a quote from The Diving Bell and the Butterfly by Jean-Dominique Bauby :
I am fading away. ...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
Twan Eng's debut novel, The Gift of Rain, covers the same moment in time in Malaya. It's a good story - Twan Eng can tell a story - but it lacks the writer's touches of hi ...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
"The road was lined with magnificent homes dating back to the 1920s. Many had been demolished, but in the geography of my memory I saw them every day, entire, complete, standing proudly in a row. And in my memory I recalled the people who had lived there, who had passed through those homes; the scandals and the tragedies of their lives."For Philip Hutton, present is a scar of the past. In his old age, he can only open his eyes inward and relive his past, a past which has been witness to both ...more
The first half of this book is quite chilled....very nice and beautiful to read
about aikido and Chinese history and life in Penang but you know things are going
to take a turn for the worse....
The second half.....all of a sudden the whole scene changes to one of savage cruelty
I just couldn't put the book down and felt compelled to finish the book in one day.
Which I did and it was brilliant!
Beautifully written an ...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
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
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
“…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
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. The ...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
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