From The Diplomat
Malaysian lawyer-turned-writer Tan Twan Eng has won Asia’s top literary award, the Man Asian Literary Prize, for his tome The Garden of Evening Mists.
Tan is the first Malaysian to snag the award, created in 2007, and his book was the second winner originally written in English.
The competition for the $30,000 prize was fierce. Other nominees – representing an impressively diverse range from across the continent – included writers from Japan (Hiromi Kawakami, The Briefcase), India (Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis, which won South Asia’s DSC Prize), Pakistan (Musharraf Ali Farooqi, Between Clay and Dust) and Turkey (Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk, Silent House). It’s worth noting that Tan and Thayil were also short-listed for the Man Group’s larger Booker Prize in 2012.
In The Garden of Evening Mists, Tan tells the story of a woman, once imprisoned in a Japanese internment camp, who decides to create a Japanese garden as a memorial to her sister who died while interned in the camp. But this isn’t just any Japanese garden. The woman learns the art of gardening from none other than the gardener who once tended the shrubs of Japan’s emperor. The former imperial gardener has gone on to live in Malaysia’s Cameron highlands and the two form an unlikely bond in spite of history.