The Garden of Evening Mists

by Tan Twan Eng (Murmidon) ISBN: 9781905802623

 

It took Tan, listed for the Man Booker Prize for his debut in 2007, five years to finish this book, but what a masterpiece! Not only the poetic prose, but also the plot kept me entranced, up to the last surprise where everything comes together, literally like the pieces of a puzzle. The Garden of Evening Mists is very well crafted, elegant, and full of symbolism.

 

The story is about Yun Lin, the only survivor of a Japanese camp in Malaya. She made her sister three promises: to escape if she had a chance, to build her the garden they envisioned together and to free her sister’s spirit from wherever she was buried.

 

Yun Lin becomes a judge and prosecutes Japanese war criminals, in the hope of finding out where she and her sister have been incarcerated, but to no avail. She then visits the former gardener of the Emperor of Japan, to ask him to design a garden in honour of her sister. He asks Yun Lin to become his apprentice instead. ‘Sparrows rise from the grass into the trees, like fallen leaves returning to their branches.’

 

This book is listed for the Man Booker Prize 2012 again and would definitely get my vote!

 

Pauline Vijverberg

5/5

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