This was an amazing, well written deput book, with many twists and turns.
It exolores the so very complex relationships, we as human beings are capable of.
Set on backdrop of Maylasia & surrounding areas, pre Japans Historical invasion & chaos similar to those done by Germany in the European theatre, if you dont enjoy history, it's not for you.
It starts in the then, present, post war & relies on many flashbacks, which are brought to the forefront when an old friend of the "teacher" comes to visit.
Martial Art Mentality figurs heavily as the cementing glue.
Family dynamics, Teachers/Mentors, alligenence to country, all play a key role in this book.
I'd read anything again by this author! Excellent in its descriptive & development of characters, the land, & how sneaky people can be!
Beautifully written. Engrossing war story set in an area that I knew little about.
This book is a puzzle, but not in a good way. Its high marks from readers feel unearned. I found the prose too ornate for the divided loyalties of its protagonist, whom I felt Eng used as a symbol without really inhabiting the complexities he imposed. The relationship between Philip and Endo-san also seemed too constrained by convention; for the longest time, I felt I was reading a more high-flown "Karate Kid." I wish the book were a more blunt, less fatalistic tale; the second WW conflict in Asia is a wellspring of fascination. But this book is the Merchant Ivory of fiction: high production values and exotic locations without the more uncomfortable probing that would transform a well enough crafted period saga into a work of real, imagined literature.
Compelling story with excellent writing. Tan's writing evokes emotions, images and understanding. I look forward to reading his second novel.
If you like just stories, this will appeal. It is full of complex relationships discovered, discarded and re-engaged in a context anyone would find challenging to their values.
Thoroughly enjoyed it.
I was disappointed in this book. I had read his second book "The garden of evening mists" and it thought it was a lot better. I find that the description of his characters a little wanting and I find it difficult to actually visualize then because they aren't that well described. As far as the history of what happened in world war 11 that was the only part of the book that I found to be interesting.
I enjoyed this book; Tan's writing is beautiful and so evocative in his descriptions of Penang before and during WWII and during the Japanese Occupation. I found myself seeking out additional information to learn more about this time and the impact on the Chinese and British communities in Penang. Also learned a bit about Japanese martial arts. The heard of the story is the complex relationship between the young man, Phillip, and his Japanese mentor. I found myself thinking about (and puzzled by) the relationship long after I finished the book.
This book is worth reading if only for the beauty of it. And the story is captivating as well. The descriptive phrases put you in tropical Penang, in the midst of WWII. It is a fascinating story that begs the question of how much 'cooperation' and 'compromise' is too much? Does the end justify the means? This book will keep you thinking about these and other dilemmas, long after you finish it.
One of the better books I've ever read. Tan Twan Eng makes Penang come alive in this tale of a half-Chinese, half-English young man who, after coming under the influence of a Japanese aikido master, decides to work for the Japanese during their occupation of Malaya, much to the horror of his family and friends. A story about family, race, friendship, and war.
The author's first novel and one that was long-listed for the Booker Prize. Set in Malaysia primarily during World War II and deals with the Japanese occupation. One of my 2013 favorites
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