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The Gift Of Rain by Tan Twan Eng

The Gift Of Rain (original 2007; edition 2007)

by Tan Twan Eng

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7735711,948 (4.12)1 / 259
Title:The Gift Of Rain
Authors:Tan Twan Eng
Info:Myrmidon (2007), Paperback, 448 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:historical, WWII, Malaysia

Work details

The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng (2007)

  1. 20
    The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama (Limelite)
    Limelite: Another young interracial Chinese boy's coming of age during WWII, only this one is set in Japan.
  2. 20
    An Artist of the Floating World by Kazuo Ishiguro (bibliobibuli)
    bibliobibuli: The Gift of Rain was greatly influenced by this book.

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A deeply moving spiritual story of a half Chinese, half British young man, Philip, whose father, Noel Hutton, runs a successful company (Hutton & Sons) in Malaya, based on the Island of Penang. Philip, the only child of his father's second wife and the youngest child, has always felt the outsider in the family. He is befriended by a Japanese man, Endo, who rents a small island the family owns just offshore from their home, and Endo becomes Philip's Sensei. The story becomes extremely complicated when WWII comes along and Philip collaborates with the Japanese invaders to save his family.

The story is told by Philip many years after the war to a woman who was in love with Endo when he was in Japan. She shows up on Philip's doorstep unexpectedly and Philio, reluctantly at first, begins to tell her about his past and his relationship with Endo. At it's core the story is a spiritual one, exploring the meaning of life and how one's choices vs. fate determine the life path, As a framework for that exploration the central characters, Philip and Endo struggle with what it means to adhere to one's duty to family, friends and country. These conflicts are explored through the lens of Buddhism (the religion of Philip's Chinese side of the family and of his sensei, Endo) and Christianity, Philips' family's religion. ( )
  bness2 | May 23, 2017 |
My second book by Eng and equally magnificent. The first, The Garge of Evening Mists, shares similarities with this book - set in Malaya/Malaysia, and character(s) are Japanese and the WWII occupation is key to the book. The setting is different - Penang - and the lead character is English (with the complication his mother was Hokkien Chinese). The time of the book is also different - earlier - and over the lifespan of the central character which is roughly the 20th century.

As usual, the author's English is beautiful with the addition is fairly simple and easy to comprehend.

Central to the plot is a decision the central character makes during the Japanese WWII occupation which is debatable ethnically and lives with him all the remainder of his life. The plot is rich but not overly complex and the dual English/Chinese background leads to an interesting plot and cast of characters.

As an aside, I was telling a Malaysian flight attendant, flying Perth to Hong Kong, about this book and she said I'm Hokkien! Hokkiens are southern Chinese who migrated to Penang in the 19th century. ( )
  martinhughharvey | Apr 10, 2017 |
This story works perfectly. Beware the blurb hinting at something which you find too soon in the story. ( )
  BridgitDavis | Feb 28, 2017 |
I thoroughly enjoyed the first half but the second half is depressing. ( )
  essjay1 | Jan 11, 2017 |
Half Chinese, half English, in the colony of Malaysia on the eve of Japanese invasion, this book tells the story of Philip Hutton and his navigation through his mixed origins and divided loyalties. Philip's relationship with his Japanese 'sensei' Hayato Endo is the fulcrum of the novel; Endo teaches him martial arts and a way of being; but as a Japanese diplomat the relationship is much more complex than that. Eng writes very evocatively about the smells, tastes and beauties of this word; he takes us up to the modern world and back to the last days of the Chinese empire through a complex web of personal and political relationships. It made me want to travel to that part of the world.
  otterley | Dec 31, 2016 |
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Book description
This remarkable debut saga of intrigue and akido flashes back to a darkly opulent WWII-era Malaya. Phillip Hutton, 72, lives in serene Penang comfort, occasionally training students as an akido master teacher of teachers. A visit from Michiko Murakami sends him spiraling back into his past, where he grows up the alienated half-British, half-Chinese son of a wealthy Penang trader in the years before WWII. When Hutton's father and three siblings leave him to run the family company one summer, he befriends a mysterious Japanese neighbor named Mr. Endo. Japan is on the opposing side of the coming war, but Endo paradoxically opts to train Hutton in the ways of aikido, in what both men come to see as the fulfillment of a prophecy that has haunted them for several lifetimes. When the Japanese army invades Malaya, chaos reigns, and Phillip makes a secret, very profitable deal. He cannot, however, offset the costs of his friendship with Endo. Eng's characters are as deep and troubled as the time in which the story takes place, and he draws on a rich palette to create a sprawling portrait of a lesser explored corner of the war. Hutton's first-person narration is measured, believable and enthralling.
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"The Gift of Rain is the story of Philip Hutton and the haunting tragedies that befall him when he becomes entangled in a web of wartime loyalties and deceits. In 1939, at the outset of World War II, sixteen- year-old Philip is a lonely outsider on the lush Malayan island of Penang. Alienated from his community and family, he at last discovers a sense of belonging through an unexpected friendship with another outsider -- a foreign diplomat whose true purpose on the island will ultimately bring unspeakable devastation. When Philip discovers he has been an unwitting traitor to his homeland and its people, he must work in secret to save as many lives as possible, even as his own family is torn apart. At once harrowing and luminous, Tan Twan Eng's celebrated debut novel is a thrilling epic and a true literary page-turner."--P. [4] of cover.… (more)

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Myrmidon Books

An edition of this book was published by Myrmidon Books.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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