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The Garden of Evening Mists

by Tan Twan Eng

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,4019510,916 (4.1)1 / 497
"Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister, who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice "until the monsoon comes." Then she can design a garden for herself. As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to the gardener and his art, while all around them a communist guerilla war rages. But the Garden of Evening Mists remains a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?"--P. [4] of cover.… (more)
  1. 10
    The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro (CGlanovsky)
  2. 00
    The Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng (M_Clark)
    M_Clark: The Gift of Rain is the first book by Tan Twan Eng and is actually much better than The Garden of Evening Mists
  3. 00
    Black Oxen by Elizabeth Knox (lottpoet)
  4. 00
    The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (CGlanovsky)
    CGlanovsky: Non-linear storytelling. Post-colonial novel. Deals with a period of political unrest.
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» See also 497 mentions

English (94)  German (1)  All languages (95)
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
Ez a könyv olyan szép, hogy hajlamos az ember elfelejteni, milyen elképesztő vállalkozás is egyben. Tan Twan Eng tulajdonképpen az irodalom eszközeivel tesz kísérletet egy orbitális Ázsia-szintézis létrehozására mind etnikai, mint történelmi értelemben. Egyszerűen szemkápráztató, mennyi minden van belesűrítve ebbe az egyetlen könyvbe: hinduk, muszlimok, kínaiak, japán megszállók, európai gyarmatosítók, kommunista lázadók… Ez a regény éppúgy szól a sérelmekről és fájdalmakról, mint a felejtésről és megbocsátásról, és nem mellesleg: ez a könyv eredeti és tiszta megfogalmazása annak a Mester és Tanítvány kapcsolatnak, ami a távol-keleti kultúrák egyik sajátossága – csak itt a tanítvány első próbatétele az, hogy megtanulja nem gyűlölni mesterét.

Több síkon és sok szereplővel operál az író, nagy céljai vannak, és jól dönt, amikor mindehhez egy lágy szövésű, világosan értelmezhető nyelvezetet választ. Azt hiszem, ezt így kell, csak így lehet. De azzal én vitatkoznék, hogy ez egy lassú szöveg. Sőt, épp ellenkezőleg – ilyen sűrű beltartalommal röpke 500 oldalon nem is tudom, boldogulna-e az író ráérősen. Pláne, hogy Twan Eng mintha a krimizsánerből emelné át azt a módszert, amivel a feszültségről gondoskodik: a mindent átható titok sejtelmét, amihez a szereplők csak lépésről lépésre jutnak közelebb. Mindezt azonban Twan Eng elrejti a szemünk elől a kert történetével. Sakkei, ahogy Aritomo, a kertész mondaná, vagyis játék a perspektívákkal: amíg szereplőink a fákkal és a koi-pontyokkal foglalkoznak, addig nekünk is olybá tűnik, hogy megállt az idő, kikerültünk a történelemből és átjár minket a nyugalom, holott az oldalak és a történések csak úgy rohannak az ujjaink alatt. Érdekes, kontinentális éghajlaton egy ilyen kert ritmusát az évszakok periodikus változásai irányítanák, ám a trópusokon más a helyzet, itt folyamatos az átalakulás, a fejlődés és a pusztulás egyaránt. Hömpölyögnek a dolgok, nem pulzálnak, ahogy ez a szöveg is. De ez a hömpölygés nem a mondatok elengedéséből fakad, hanem a lehető legmagasabb fokú megkomponáltságból. „Az övéhez hasonló kerteket azért tervezik, hogy manipulálják az ember érzéseit. Én ezt tisztességtelennek találom.” – mondja a könyv egyik (fehér) szereplője Aritomo botanikai műalkotásáról. És igen, ezt a regényt is azért tervezték, hogy manipulálja az ember érzéseit. És én ezt végtelenül tisztességesnek találom. Feltéve, ha sikerrel jár..

(Külön kiemelném a Tizenhatodik fejezetet – bár talán nonszensz egy epikus próza esetében egyetlen fejezet kiemelése. De Tacudzsi elbeszélése a kamikaze-pilótákról az egész egyszerűen tökéletes. Mutogatni kéne íróiskolákban, hogy nézd csak, így kell érzékenyen, finoman megmarkolni az olvasó összes belsőszervét egyszerre. Talán a vesék kivételével.) ( )
  Kuszma | Jul 2, 2022 |
Well written, but the ponderous tone of the narrative seeps into the dialogue, weighing it down like a concrete shoe. Early on in this temporally bifurcated story, the main character is asked by her host if it feels strange to be back in the place where the original events unfolded. She replies "everywhere I turn, I hear echoes of sounds made long ago."

Of course... Totally normal way of talking. Later on another character "empties out a sigh from deep within her" and says "my memory is like the moon tonight, full and bright, so bright you can see all its scars." Totally normal talk, not at all literary.

Everything is weighty, contemplative... there are no changes in pace, even in the many traumatic flashbacks. The characters are all excellent at everything, exhibiting no flaws. Aritomo is an expert in garden design, aikido, archery, and tattooing. He doesn't suck at anything, and nor does the heroine. Everyone in this book has suffered differently, but they all process their suffering calmly, methodically, and for me unengagingly.

Tan can write, and this novel is thematically rich — but it's not my cup of laboriously cultivated, infinitely nuanced, orgasmically savoured tea. ( )
  yarb | Jun 13, 2022 |
The definition of lyrical writing is "writing that is song-like, poetic, or deeply evocative". How gorgeous it is to listen to a book that is as LYRICAL as this! Sure the story is a little hard to follow as it slips between time periods, and the timeline, dates and ages of the characters are hazy - part of the fog or mist that the author winds around his characters and events.

This book won the Man Asian Prize - in 2013 I think - first thing I'm going to do is look up the other winners and put them on my reading list.

How grateful I am that this was made into an audiobook so I could access it. All 15.5 hours of it. I found it had a fairly slow start and if I wasn't reading it for a book club, I may not have persisted, but once I was in the car and heard at least an hour of it uninterrupted, I was convinced, this is one to put on the highlights of the year list. ( )
  Okies | Apr 21, 2022 |
Before me lies a voyage of a million miles, and memory is the moonlight I will borrow to illuminate my way.

My mind is still swirling of the ending, enveloping the book’s beautiful story.

Here's my full review:
http://www.sholee.net/2018/06/mpov-garden-of-evening-mists.html ( )
  Sholee | Sep 9, 2021 |
Slow to start, but wonderful in finishing. This story is a meditation on memory, love, war, and so much more. For all its violence and passion, the narrative tone is remarkably even, possessing a stillness that is embodied by the garden at its core. ( )
  dowswell | Jul 25, 2021 |
Showing 1-5 of 94 (next | show all)
The language is as lush as the landscape he seeks to describe. His prose is punctuated with clever imagery; in reuniting with Teoh, Eng brilliantly describes Frederick's wry reaction "A smile skims across his face, capsizing an instant later."

Though on the whole the descriptive narrative was attractive, at times more concision might have saved it from becoming overwrought, as in my view it was, and rather frustratingly holding back what was otherwise a compelling and unique story.
 
As in his first novel, The Gift of Rain, Tan employs exotic settings and mystical aspects of Japanese culture to drive his narrative. But this time the effect is darker. Aritomo's mastery of the art of shakkei - "Borrowed Scenery" - initially seems enlightened, but as we come to question his true motives for absconding to this obscure backwater, it appears increasingly deceptive.
Though later plot elements surrounding a search for buried wartime treasure do not always complement the atmosphere Tan has carefully constructed, this is a beautiful, dark and wistful exploration of loss and remembrance that, appropriately, will stay with you long after reading.
 
This novel ticks many boxes: its themes are serious, its historic grounding solid, its structure careful, its old-fashioned ornamentalism respectable. The reason I found it impossible to love is the quality of the writing. There is no discernible personality in the dutiful, dull voice of Yun Ling, and non-events stalk us on every page: "for a timeless moment I looked straight into his eyes"; "For a long while he does not say anything. Finally he begins to speak in a slow, steady voice." The self-conscious dialogue resembles a history lesson collated for the benefit of the western reader, and everything is ponderously "like" something else, so it takes twice as long: "We were like two moths around a candle, circling closer and closer to the flames, waiting to see whose wings would catch fire first." Despite the dramatic events, the overall effect is one of surprising blandness, like something you've read before.
 
This is a good old-fashioned story with a plot that arcs gracefully, maintains suspense, and stays true to characterisation. Yun Ling’s independent spirit and her anger seep like ink-stains into the narrative, but its distilled essence is a quieter appraisal of the dichotomy of memory, its treacherous failures, its cruel conveniences, its fadeout and deliverance. Outside Magnus’s house are two statues—one is of Mnemosyne the goddess of memory and the other is of her twin sister, the goddess of forgetting, whose name, of course, has been forgotten.

Here, too, the garden is the conceit. “A garden borrows from the earth, the sky, and everything around it, but you borrow from time,” Yun Ling accuses Aritomo, “Your memories are a form of shakkei too. You bring them in to make your life here feel less empty. Like the mountains and the clouds over your garden, you can see them, but they will always be out of reach.” The garden that Yun Ling intends to make is about more than a desire to preserve the memory of her sister, though, for in many ways, it was the idea of this garden that kept the sisters hopeful through their long internment. The Japanese garden, with its many deceptions and beauties, becomes a well-formed metaphor for the ways in which our lives are lived.
 
Aritomo, the enigmatic former gardener to the Emperor of Japan who glides through Tan Twan Eng’s second novel, tells his female apprentice in the Cameron Highlands of early-1950s Malaya that “Every aspect of gardening is a form of deception”.

Just the same applies, you might argue, to the art of fiction, with its incomplete points-of-view and deceptive trompe d’oeil vistas. Tan’s story here is just as elegantly planted as his Man Booker-long listed debut The Gift of Rain, and even more tantalisingly evocative.

Suffused with a satisfying richness of colour and character, it still abounds in hidden passageways and occult corners. Mysteries and secrets persist. Tan dwells often on the borderline states, the in between areas, of Japanese art: the archer’s hiatus before the arrow speeds from the bow; the patch of skin that a master of the horimono tattoo will leave bare; or the “beautiful and sorrowful” moment “just as the last leaf is about to drop”.
added by kidzdoc | editThe Independent, Boyd Tonkin (Apr 28, 2012)
 

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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tan Twan Engprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bentinck, AnnaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
There is a goddess of Memory, Mnemosyne; but none of Forgetting. Yet there should be, as they are twin sisters, twin powers, and walk on either side of us, disputing for sovereignty over us and who we are, all the way until death.

Richard Holmes, A Meander Through Memory and Forgetting
Dedication
For my sister

And

Opgedra aan A J Buys — sonder jou sou hierdie boek dubbel so lank en halfpad so goed wees. Mag jou eie mooi taal altyd gedy.
First words
On a mountain above the clouds once lived a man who had been the gardener of the Emperor of Japan.
Quotations
Memory is like patches of sunlight in an overcast valley, shifting with the movement of the clouds. Now and then the light will fall on a particular point in time, illuminating it for a moment before the wind seals up the gap, and the world is in shadows again.
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?
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

"Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister, who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice "until the monsoon comes." Then she can design a garden for herself. As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to the gardener and his art, while all around them a communist guerilla war rages. But the Garden of Evening Mists remains a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?"--P. [4] of cover.

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Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the emperor of Japan. Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in memory of her sister, who died in the camp. Aritomo  refuses but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice "until the  monsoon comes." Then she can design a garden for herself.

As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to the gardener and his art. while all around them a communist guerilla war rages. But the Garden of Evening Mists remains a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?
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