Author: Tan Twan Eng
Keywords: Intriguing. Mysterious. Historical.
This is the tale of a judge who has been a prisoner of war in a Japanese internment camp in Word War II. After the war she tries to make sense of her life. She is also battling an illness in private. While visiting old friends, she meets a Japanese artist who was previously the Emperor’s gardener. She is conflicted, as she wants to learn the Japanese art of creating a garden from a master, but she also hates the Japanese for what they did to her and her people.
The Japanese philosophy of building a garden, which goes beyond the obvious, affects her without her knowledge. She also overcomes her hatred and anger against the gardener to become friends, and later lovers. This tale moves effortlessly across different times of her life. Her journey draws the reader in. Although the book is set against the backdrop of war, it is not only a war story. We see her young days with her parents and sister in Malaya before it was torn by war. We get to know her as a well-known judge, and later, as a person searching for peace, and searching for herself. The slow revealing of her character, and the story, makes for a wonderful read.
Author: Richard Flanagan
Keywords: Realistic. Epic. Historical.
This book tells the tale of an Australian doctor living as a prisoner of war in a Japanese camp. This is not a story for the faint of heart. Detailed descriptions and narrations of conditions in the camp, the illness, the starvation, the cruelty, the air of death that hangs over everything make for a serious, albeit very moving read. It is disturbing to imagine the conditions under which thousands lived, and died. Intertwined with the main narrative is the love story of the protagonist and the feelings of guilt and inner conflict that torment him. This book describes war in all its forms, in the external world between countries and in the internal world of one man’s heart.