The Gift of Rain Paperback – 27 May 2008
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A powerful first novel about a tumultuous and almost forgotten period of history. --Times Literary Supplemen
A remarkable book… about war, friendship, memory and discipline. --Ian McMillan, BBC Radio 3
Haunting and highly evocative... a deeply moving tale. --Cape Times
About the Author
Tan Twan Eng was born in Penang, but lived in various places in Malaysia as a child. He studied law through the University of London, and later worked as an advocate and solicitor in Kuala Lumpur. He has a first-dan ranking in Aikido and is a strong proponent for the conservation of heritage buildings. He has spent the last year traveling around South Africa, and currently lives in Cape Town where he is working on his second book.
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Top Customer Reviews
Let me say first of all that the Gift of Rain is a great, easy and thoroughly entertaining read from its very beginning when deep in the night an elderly Japanese lady brings a sword to the front door of an elderly man who has been trying for 50 years to come to terms with his terrible past.
Like so many great novels this book refuses to be categorized; it has elements of a historical novel, a coming of age story, a war novel, a treatise on martial arts. Martial arts go to the root of Asian philosophy: Daoism, Confucianism and Buddhism are all in the book. Predestination versus free will is one of the book's most important themes. The protagonist Philip Hutton's character is shaped by his struggles at a time of war to balance his duty and his loyalty to his father, his family, his country and the enemy in the form of his beloved martial arts teacher, his sensei, Hayato Endo.
The narrative begins as a reflective and beautifully written coming of age story when the sixteen year old, half Chinese boy, Philip Hutton meets the enigmatic Japanese diplomat Endo-san, who becomes his martial arts master and starts him off on an incredibly exciting but unbearably sad voyage of conflict and self discovery.
When the Japanese invade Malaya the tone and style of the book change. The book turns into a fast moving war story. But war destroys and the war has devastating effects on the lives of all the complex main characters.Read more ›
The writing sometimes rises to poetry without being incomprehensible, and the author never forsakes a strong narrative and a taut and gripping plot, which so many Booker-type novels do. There were one or two points in the book which made me a bit impatient, but coming to the end of the book I understood why those parts were necessary.
My wife and I loved it (she cried at some parts of the book) and will recommend it to our reading-circle. Somehow, life looks subtly different after closing the book...
Hope it'll go onto the short list.
The only serious shortcoming in this book is that the characterisation is a bit cartoon-like and it's over-emphasis on fate excludes more realistic approach to explore the nature of the relationship between Endo and Philip. The relationship can assumed to be triggered by a typical adoration of a pupil of a master, the pupil, being Philip, feeling left out by his own father and finding a father figure in Endo.
Anyway, this is a beautifully written and gripping story that's well worth reading.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Am amazing read. All the elements of a good story... fact and fiction. A conflict between family, duty, friendship and love. Thought provoking and affecting.Published 18 days ago by Amazon Customer
Really enjoyable book. I haven't finished it yet as it is a bit heftyPublished 1 month ago by Jane Tubbs
I found this a fascinating book, though slow moving. It looks at the different cultures - Malay, British and Japanese in an interesting way and it is most beautifully written. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Beautifully written about Penang - an area I knew very little about.Published 1 month ago by over the hill
Beautiful, disturbing, unsettling book about love, pain, friendship, family and duty, gorgeous descriptions that made me feel like I was in rainforests or gardens of Penang when in... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Miss D Slorach
times I couldn't put it down, times I has to come up for air. writing style beautifulPublished 2 months ago by Val
A friend lent me this as well as his second book 'The Garden of Evening Mists'. Loved them so much had to have both in my library to read again and again. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Willco