SHORTLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2012. It's Malaya, 1949. After studying law at Cambrige and time spent helping to prosecute Japanese war criminals, Yun Ling Teoh, herself the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle fringed plantations of Northern Malaya where she grew up as a child. 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 Kuala Lumpur, 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 her sensei and his art while, outside the garden, the threat of murder and kidnapping from the guerrillas of the jungle hinterland increases with each passing day. But the Garden of Evening Mists is also a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? Why is it that Yun Ling's friend and host Magnus Praetorius, seems to almost immune from the depredations of the Communists? What is the legend of 'Yamashita's Gold' and does it have any basis in fact? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?
Tan Twan Eng was born in Penang, Malaysia. He divides his time between Kuala Lumpur and Cape Town.
The Gift of Rain, his first novel, was Longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. It has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Greek, Romanian, Czech and Serbian.
His latest novel is The Garden of Evening Mists, shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2012. Boyd Tonkin in The Independent called it
'an elegant and haunting novel of art and war and memory...Tan writes with breath-catching poise and grace, linguistic refinement and searching intelligence...His fictional garden cultivates formal harmony -but also undermines it. It unmasks sophisticated artistry as a partner of pain and lies. 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.'
It has been translated/will be translated into German, French, Italian, Serbian, Spanish, Dutch, Polish, Taiwanese Chinese, Indonesian, Korean and Norwegian.
The Garden of Evening Mists won the Man Asian Literary Prize in March 2013.
In June it won the Walter Scott Prize 2013, from a shortlist of authors which included Hilary Mantel, Rose Tremain, Thomas Keneally, Pat Barker and Anthony Quinn