Synopses & Reviews
The recipient of extraordinary acclaim from critics and the bookselling community, Tan Twan Eng's debut novel casts a powerful spell and has garnered comparisons to celebrated wartime storytellers Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene. Set during the tumult of World War II, on the lush Malayan island of Penang, The Gift of Rain
tells a riveting and poignant tale about a young man caught in the tangle of wartime loyalties and deceits.
In 1939, sixteen-year-old Philip Hutton-the half-Chinese, half-English youngest child of the head of one of Penang's great trading families-feels alienated from both the Chinese and British communities. He at last discovers a sense of belonging in his unexpected friendship with Hayato Endo, a Japanese diplomat. Philip proudly shows his new friend around his adored island, and in return Endo teaches him about Japanese language and culture and trains him in the art and discipline of aikido. But such knowledge comes at a terrible price. When the Japanese savagely invade Malaya, Philip realizes that his mentor and sensei — to whom he owes absolute loyalty — is a Japanese spy. Young Philip has been an unwitting traitor, and must now work in secret to save as many lives as possible, even as his own family is brought to its knees.
"This remarkable debut saga of intrigue and aikido flashes back to a darkly opulent WWII-era Malaya. [Eng] draws on a rich palette to create a sprawling portrait of a lesser-explored corner of the war." Publishers Weekly
"Strong characters and page-turning action make this a top pick for historical fiction." Library Journal
"[Eng's] novel is a meditation on the deals humans make to survive, as well as the bond between a pupil and his teacher in an Asian culture. Tan Twan Eng's lucid writing carries along the story effortlessly." Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
"[A]n epic journey into the eye of the Asian storm, filled with the dread and turmoil that came with Japan's invasion of its neighbors. At the same time, Eng's tale overflows with mesmerizing beauty and wonder." Minneapolis Star Tribune
"Eng's graceful prose evokes a time and place that is little known or remembered now, making it both exotic and familiar, and his beautiful narrative is woven with strong images and characters." San Fransisco Chronicle
An epic novel nominated for the Man Booker Prize, this epic debut tells the story of a young man's perilous journey through the betrayals of war and into manhood.
About the Author
Tan Twan Eng was born in Penang and lived in various regions of Malaysia as a child. He studied law at the University of London, and later worked as an advocate and solicitor in one of Kuala Lumpur’s most respected law firms. The Gift of Rain, Mr. Tan’s first novel, was long-listed for the 2007 Man Booker Prize. He divides his time between Kuala Lumpur and Cape Town.