The Gift of Rain

The Gift of Rain

Paperback

By (author) Tan Twan Eng

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  • Publisher: Myrmidon Books Ltd
  • Format: Paperback | 448 pages
  • Dimensions: 138mm x 196mm x 42mm | 480g
  • Publication date: 27 May 2008
  • Publication City/Country: Newcastle
  • ISBN 10: 1905802145
  • ISBN 13: 9781905802142
  • Sales rank: 8,032

Product description

Penang, 1939. Sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton is a loner. Half English, half Chinese and feeling neither, he discovers a sense of belonging in an unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat. Philip shows his new friend around his adored island of Penang, and in return Endo trains him in the art and discipline of aikido. But such knowledge comes at a terrible price. The enigmatic Endo is bound by disciplines of his own and when the Japanese invade Malaya, threatening to destroy Philip's family and everything he loves, he realises that his trusted sensei - to whom he owes absolute loyalty - has been harbouring a devastating secret.Philip must risk everything in an attempt to save those he has placed in mortal danger and discover who and what he really is. With masterful and gorgeous narrative, replete with exotic and captivating images, sounds and aromas - of rain swept beaches, magical mountain temples, pungent spice warehouses, opulent colonial ballrooms and fetid and forbidding rainforests - Tan Twan Eng weaves a haunting and unforgettable story of betrayal, barbaric cruelty, steadfast courage and enduring love.

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Author information

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.

Review quote

'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

Editorial reviews

Though this debut novel of divided loyalties in Southeast Asia during World War II has the epic sweep of a TV mini-series, portentous dialogue and belabored themes undermine its otherwise engrossing plot.Narrating the novel, which was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, is Philip Hutton, whom the reader first encounters as the Malaysian island of Penang is about to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the end of Japanese occupation. As the surviving member of one of the island's leading families, the half-Chinese, half-English Hutton is surprised to receive a visitor from Japan, Michiko Murakami, an aged woman previously unknown to him. She soon reveals that the two have a strong tie through their mutual association with Hayato Endo, a teacher of martial arts and Zen Buddhism, who had exerted a profound influence on both. Much of the rest of the novel finds Philip relating to Michiko (and the reader) how his relationship with Endo had determined his life's course. The narrative structure is a little clunky (Michiko disappears for hundreds of pages at a time, making the reader wonder whether this setup is really necessary), but Hutton's story is frequently compelling. He had become the pupil of the Japanese master as a teenager, when he was already struggling with questions of identity and allegiance. The only child of his British father's second marriage, to a Chinese woman who died when he was a boy, he felt like a foreigner with his father and stepsiblings. The influence of Endo on Philip further complicates familial relations, particularly after Japan invades Malaya during World War II. Was Philip a collaborator who betrayed his own country? Did he do what he needed to protect his family? Or was he a patriot engaged in subversion against the Japanese who had come to trust him?The author makes it clear that issues of treason and patriotism - and fate and free will - defy easy resolution. (Kirkus Reviews)