The Garden of Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

77%

25 Critic Reviews

...its themes are serious, its historic grounding solid, its structure careful, its old-fashioned ornamentalism respectable.
-Guardian

Synopsis

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?

 

About Tan Twan Eng

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Tan Twan Eng was born in Penang, Malaysia, but lived in various places in Malaysia as a child. He worked as an Intellectual Property lawyer before resigning from his position to write his novel, The Gift of Rain. His second novel, The Garden of Evening Mists, will be published in the United Kingdom in February 2012.The Gift of Rain was nominated for the Man Booker Prize, and has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Greek, Romanian, Czech and Serbian. Tan Twan Eng lives in Cape Town where he is working on his third novel.
 
Published September 4, 2012 by Weinstein Books. 354 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction
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Critic reviews for The Garden of Evening Mists
All: 25 | Positive: 20 | Negative: 5

Publishers Weekly

Below average
on Feb 10 2017

There is a puzzling lack of pathos, and Eng's similar treatment of the tragic and the mundane serves to downplay rather than highlight the differences between the two. As a result, there is very little—other than Eng's moving atmospherics and attention to detail—to draw readers along.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by DOMINIQUE BROWNING on Aug 31 2012

The crucial action in “The Garden of Evening Mists,” a strong, quiet novel... takes place in Malaya just after World War II.

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Guardian

Below average
Reviewed by Kapka Kassabova on Aug 24 2012

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...

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Kapka Kassabova on Aug 24 2012

...its themes are serious, its historic grounding solid, its structure careful, its old-fashioned ornamentalism respectable.

Read Full Review of The Garden of Evening Mists | See more reviews from Guardian

The Independent

Good
Reviewed by Boyd Tonkin on Apr 28 2012

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.

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Curious Book Fans

Good
Reviewed by koshkha on Feb 23 2012

The ending when it comes may well leave you with as many questions as answers...tied up neatly for the reader whilst the final few pages reveal why Yun Ling refuses to seek treatment for her medical problems, reasons that are much different from those I had suspected.

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Herald Scotland

Good
on Jan 04 2013

Dense as an exotic garden and dripping with barely suppressed rage, yet elegant and cool when it needs to be, this is a fine and unusual read.

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California Literary Review

Good
Reviewed by Ed Voves on Sep 10 2012

The descriptions of nature in this heart-felt novel are so powerful, so sensitively handled that a palpable feeling of having seen the garden and the surrounding mist-shrouded hills is engendered.

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Times Live

Above average
Reviewed by Ruth Browne on May 29 2012

As a writer who divides his time between Kuala Lumpur and Cape Town, Tan Twan Eng has an appealing sense of humour united with a sensitivity to political and personal unrest that is particularly well-suited to a South African audience.

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Booking Mama

Good
Reviewed by Julie P. on Apr 30 2013

THE GARDEN OF EVENING MISTS is a gorgeous novel and one that fans of literary fiction won't want to miss.

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Fantasy Book Critic

Good
Reviewed by Liviu on Sep 04 2012

Overall "The Garden of Evening Mists" is just great stuff, the best literary novel of the year for me and a top 5 for sure - actually I could easily see it as #1 depending on how it will wear in time - and the clear favorite for me in the Booker longlist...

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ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

Above average
Reviewed by Lisa Hill on Jan 28 2013

The notion that sisters in a Japanese slave labour camp would be able to transcend the brutality of their captivity by fantasising about the serenity of a Japanese garden rather than the lush landscapes of their own culture is bizarre. Still, if such doubts are suspended, the novel works.

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Caribous Mom

Good
Reviewed by Wendy on Apr 03 2012

The Garden of Evening Mists is a literary treat. Readers who love literary fiction will find themselves pulled into this introspective and exquisitely written novel.

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So Many Books

Good
Reviewed by Stefanie on Dec 20 2012

This is a book resounding with echoes. The writing is beautiful, measured. The tone is quiet. Reading the book is like walking slowly through a garden, pausing here and there to take in a view

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Book Coasters

Excellent
Reviewed by Bibliophile on Dec 12 2013

Tan Twan Eng’s Garden of Evening Mists is pensive, contemplative, reflective, metaphorical and exquisitely beautiful. I highly recommend this slow, thoughtful novel.

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Literary Hoarders

Good
Reviewed by Penny on Oct 13 2012

Overall, I did always find myself wanting to get back to the story and continue to read and discover what would happen next. The descriptions of the gardens and folk-tales were truly beautiful.

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Literary Hoarders

Above average
Reviewed by Elizabeth on Sep 05 2012

Overall, the premise of the book was impressive, as was the strength of Yun Ling. The force working against the story, however, was its predictability.

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Unabridged Chick

Good
Reviewed by Audra on Mar 29 2012

I often found myself chewing over this book as I listened to the news about the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan, thinking of those survivors, and I'm even more appreciative of this novel. A quiet, lovely book with punch.

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Crazy for Books

Above average
on Oct 26 2013

The later developments in the story surrounding a search for buried wartime treasure do not gel well with the atmosphere the novelist created. Nonetheless, the Garden of Evening Mists is a beautiful exploration of loss and remembrance.

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http://chathamcommunitylibrary.com

Good
on Jan 11 2013

It’s easy to see why The Garden of Evening Mists was shortlisted for the 2012 Man Booker Prize because it stays very reader-friendly even as it creates multiple, sometimes complex, story lines and timelines for us to follow.

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A Novel Approach

Good
on Jul 17 2012

The Garden of Evening Mists is a deeply complex novel that asks many questions of its readers about topics as varied as post-colonial politics to the best way to design a garden.

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chasing bawa

Above average
on Mar 21 2012

One of the reasons why I was intrigued by this book was the subject matter. The tipping point before the birth of Malaysia, the atrocities commited by the Japanese and the brutal indifference of the British. And amidst that, a lone Japanese gardener with a suspicious past...

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Me, You, and Books

Good
on Dec 31 2012

The Garden of Evening Mists is real literature and deserves to be read by all who care about universal, unanswerable questions about illusion and reality.

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A Traveler's Library

Good
Reviewed by Vera Marie Badertscher on Sep 21 2012

When I finished reading The Garden of Evening Mists late one night in Tucson, Arizona, I sat quietly for a while. I had to leave Malaysia behind and say a reluctant farewell to the brave, intelligent and resilient Yun Ling, the woman who had been telling me her life story.

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The House of Seven Tails

Good
Reviewed by Amy Meyer on Apr 04 2012

Tan Twan Eng has written a quiet but powerful and complex book. It contains passages that are both beautiful and breath-taking, shocking and painful.

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Reader Rating for The Garden of Evening Mists
87%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 745 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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