Tuesday 11 September 2012

Compass Points Booker Special

Compass Points Special
Exciting Man Booker Prize News!

Hurrah, hooray and many many congratulations to Tan Twan Eng and Myrmidon Books. We are pleased to tell you that a book from one of the Compass publishers is on the 2012 Man Booker Prize shortlist, which was announced this morning. 

The Garden of Evening Mists has the same sumptuous style and exotic imagery which was so beloved by readers and critics alike, in the author’s first novel, The Gift of Rain. It deals with Malaysia’s turbulent road to independence: a time of insurrection and uncertainty and terror. Yun Ling Teoh, herself the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle fringed plantations of Northern Malaya where she grew up as a child. There she discovers Yugiri, the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and its owner and creator, the enigmatic Aritomo, exiled former gardener of the Emperor of Japan.  Despite her hatred of the Japanese, Yun Ling seeks to engage Aritomo to create a garden in Kuala Lumpur, in memory of her sister who died in the camp. Aritomo refuses, but agrees to accept Yun Ling as his apprentice ‘until the monsoon comes.’ Then she can design a garden for herself. As the months pass, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to her sensei and his art while, outside the garden, the threat of murder and kidnapping from the guerrillas of the jungle hinterland increases with each passing day.
But the Garden of Evening Mists is also a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? Why is it that Yun Ling’s friend and host Magnus Praetorius, seems to almost immune from the depredations of the Communists? What is the legend of ‘Yamashita’s Gold’ and does it have any basis in fact? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?

The Gift of Rain is the first novel by Tan Twan Eng, which has so far sold over 60,000 copies and was longlisted for The Man Booker Prize in 2007. This is a sumptuous epic of a book, set in Malaya predominantly during the time of the Japanese invasion in 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. The themes of identity, war, cultural clashes, loyalty, loss and the nature of enduring love are all explored in this powerful first novel.

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 lawyer in one of Kuala Lumpur’s most reputable law firms. He also has a first-dan ranking in aikido and is a strong proponent for the conservation of heritage buildings. Tan Twan Eng lives in Cape Town where he is working on his third novel.

The six authors on the 2012 Man Booker Shortlist are: Tan Twan Eng, The Garden of Evening Mists (Myrmidon Books); Deborah Levy, Swimming Home (And Other Stories); Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies (Fourth Estate); Alison Moore, The Lighthouse (Salt); Will Self, Umbrella (Bloomsbury); and Jeet Thayil, Narcopolis (Faber & Faber). The overall winner will be announced at a dinner on October 16.

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