Darwin’s Pick: The Garden of Evening Mists

The Garden of Evening Mists—Tan Twan Eng.  From the author of The Gift of Rain, comes a new Booker-shortlisted novel set again in Malaya.  Judge Yun Ling Teoh is retiring from the bench in Kuala Lumpur after a long career, to set down her memories before they vanish to a diagnosis of aphasia.  And memories she has—growing up in the family of a wealthy Chinese tea planter, interned in a Japanese prison camp, working as a prosecutor of war criminals, living through the post-war Communist insurgency and the transformation of Malaya into Malaysia.  Central to her story is her apprenticeship to the former gardener to the Emperor of Japan who has taken refuge in a corner of a tea estate in the Cameron Highlands.  It is a sweeping story, set in a corner of the world that is the confluence of many cultures, of lost innocence, love, devotion, the craft of Japanese gardens, full-body tattooing (!), and much more.  Fully absorbing.

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