The Garden of Evening Mists
Praise For The Garden of Evening Mists…
“The Garden of Evening Mists offers action-packed, end-of-empire storytelling in the vein of Tan’s compatriot Tash Aw. His fictional garden cultivates formal harmony –but also undermines it. It unmasks sophisticated artistry as a partner of pain and lies. This duality invests the novel with a climate of doubt; a mood – as with Aritomo’s creation – of “tension and possibility”. Its beauty never comes to rest.”
“A rising star from Malaysia . . . Tan writes with breath-catching poise and grace. [The Garden of Evening Mists is a novel of] linguistic refinement and searching intelligence. . . . But for all its mission to ‘capture stillness on paper’. . . The Garden of Evening Mists also offers action-packed, end-of-empire storytelling.”
Dominique Browning, The New York Times Book Review“[A] strong quiet novel [of] eloquent mystery.”
“The unexpected relationship between a war-scarred woman and an exiled gardener leads to a journey through remorse to a kind of peace. After a notable debut, Eng (The Gift of Rain, 2008) returns to the landscape of his origins with a poetic, compassionate, sorrowful novel set in the aftermath of World War II in Malaya…Grace and empathy infuse this melancholy landscape of complex loyalties enfolded by brutal history, creating a novel of peculiar, mysterious, tragic beauty.” – Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW“As intricately designed as a Japanese garden, this deceptively quiet novel resonates with the power to inspire a variety of passionate emotions…A haunting novel certain to stay with the reader long after the book is closed.”
Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW
“Like his debut, The Gift of Rain (2007), Tan’s second novel is exquisite…Tan triumphs again, entwining the redemptive power of storytelling with the elusive search for truth, all the while juxtaposing Japan’s inhumane war history with glorious moments of Japanese art and philosophy. All readers in search of spectacular writing will not be disappointed.”
"Beautifully written...Eng is quite simply one of the best novelists writing today."
Hachette Books, 9781602861800, 352pp.
Publication Date: September 4, 2012
About the Author
Conversation Starters from ReadingGroupChoices.com
The author introduces Yun Ling as she is entering
retirement, and slowly reveals the key experiences that
have shaped her life. What was your initial impression
of the main character and how did it change as the novel
As a research clerk in the war crimes tribunal directly after the war,
Yun Ling is intimately involved in the national process of punishment
and healing after the horrors of the Japanese invasion. Yet, she is hardly
healed, and she has her own motives for this work. Can the Japanese
crimes be forgiven?
Violence is a frequent presence in Yun Ling’s life, from the labor camp
to the CT invasion to the destruction of her memory. How does she
cope with the trauma of these events? Is she successful?
Not just violence, but sexual violence is a factor in the novel. How
did you grapple with Yun Hong’s experience as one of the “comfort
women” in the camp and the shame she felt as a result?
Intertwined with the traumatic episodes, art – including literature,
painting, and, of course, garden design – appears constantly in
the book. Consider some key examples (i.e., Yun Hong’s painting,
the supposed Golden Lily hoard, Yugiri itself) and discuss their
importance to the novel.
Aritomo’s final artistic work is not a garden but a horimono, a tattoo
covering much of Yun Ling’s battered body. What is the significance of
this act to their relationship and to the novel?
There is a constant struggle between memory and forgetting in
the novel. How does the experience of the camp change Yun Ling’s
relationship to memory?
Frederik and Yun Ling have a brief encounter when she first arrives at
Majuba estate, and he makes it clear that he has strong feelings for her
throughout the book. Why do you think Yun Ling chooses Aritomo
Why does Yun Ling, after all her searching and striving, choose not to
use the possible clues from her horimono to try and locate her camp?
Is this a hopeful novel?