I read this book as part of my global reading challenge. Tan Twan Eng is a Malaysian author who writes in English. The Garden of Evening Mists was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012.
Set mainly on a tea estate in the Malaysian jungle but told through flashbacks and memories, this book is very atmospheric and beautifully descriptive. Tan Twan Eng’s writing is wonderfully evocative and lyrical – in stark contrast to some of the subject matters covered. I became totally immersed in this world through his writing which conjured up beautiful pictures of a place I have never visited and knew little about. Here’s one of my favourite passages:
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 shadow again.
There are many contrasting themes within the pages of this book – love, hate and forgiving, beauty and horror, war and peace, memory and forgetting. I learnt about a period of history I knew little of and about which I am now keen to know more.
If you like slow burning stories (although actually these are generally not my favourite!) set in different cultures, and studies of memory, I think you would enjoy this book. It is not a fast paced thrill read. The story reveals itself slowly and quite gently; it feels quite meditative in fact. 4 stars