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.
This remarkable debut saga of intrigue and akido flashes back to a darkly opulent WWII-era Malaya. Phillip Hutton, 72, lives in serene Penang comfort, occasionally training students as an akido master "teacher of teachers." A visit from Michiko Murakami sends him spiraling back into his past, where he grows up the alienated half-British, half-Chinese son of a wealthy Penang trader in the years before WWII. When Hutton's father and three siblings leave him to run the family company one summer, he befriends a mysterious Japanese neighbor named Mr. Endo. Japan is on the opposing side of the coming war, but Endo paradoxically opts to train Hutton in the ways of aikido, in what both men come to see as the fulfillment of a prophecy that has haunted them for several lifetimes. When the Japanese army invades Malaya, chaos reigns, and Phillip makes a secret, very profitable deal. He cannot, however, offset the costs of his friendship with Endo. Eng's characters are as deep and troubled as the time in which the story takes place, and he draws on a rich palette to create a sprawling portrait of a lesser explored corner of the war. Hutton's first-person narration is measured, believable and enthralling. (May) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
'A powerful first novel about a tumultuous and almost forgotten period of history.'Times Literary Supplement'A remarkable book... about war, friendship, memory and discipline.'Ian McMillan, BBC Radio 3'Haunting and highly evocative... a deeply moving tale.'Cape Times'An engrossing read, a hugely enjoyable emotional voyage.'John McRae, author of The Routledge Guide to Modern Writing.'The novel reveals an emotional depth coupled with a heartfelt exploration of a dramatic moment in a community's history...A richly rewarding read.'Wilhelm Snyman, Cape Times'The Gift of Rain is a riveting book about loyalty, honour and courage. It asks: How does an individual make moral decisions and carry them out in the face of conflicting loyalties and values?It requires an exceptionally assured writer to do justice to such a theme, but first-time novelist Tan Twan Eng spins out his complex, nuanced story with skill and grace. His style is assured and clear, his imagery powerful, often beautiful.'Rick Sullivan, Adelaide Advertiser'Vivid ... strong narrative ... rich in imagery and action ... I was so totally hooked that everything else had to be put on hold until I had finished it.'Sharon Bakar,The Star (Kuala Lumpur)'An easy pleasure to read... Yes, there are moral and political complexities, but Tan Twan Eng generally deals with them with disarming lightness. Plus, his prose... is smooth and often even delicate.'Sam Jordison, guardian.co.uk'Unusually clever and evocative... Tragic tale of love and betrayal beautifully told.'Geelong Advertiser
This epic first novel involves the life of Philip Arminius Khoo-Hutton-half-British and half-Chinese, who lives on the Malaysian island of Penang prior to World War II. Feeling like an outcast in his aristocratic British family, he befriends an older Japanese diplomat, Endo-san, who teaches him the art of aikido. A sacred bond grows between student and teacher-"next to a parent, a teacher is the most important person in one's life." When war erupts and the Japanese invade Malaya, Philip finds his loyalty divided between his family and Endo-san. In a series of dramatic events, he discovers support from his courageous Chinese past told through his grandfather, a sustaining friendship with a fellow student of aikido name Kon, and a mysterious association with Endo-san that has been playing out for hundreds of years and can only be broken in a ritual of death. Philip's personal drama unfolds against the backdrop of fascinating glimpses into Chinese culture, British imperialism, and the Japanese occupation that eventually claims the lives of everyone around him. Strong characters and page-turning action make this a top pick for historical fiction.-David A. Berona, Plymouth State Univ., NH Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.