The Garden of Evening Mists (Tan Twang Eng)

The Garden of Evening Mists tells the story of Yun Ling Teoh, a woman seeking solace and redemption in the aftermath of World War II. Set in the highlands of Malaya, the novel explores themes of memory, loss, and forgiveness as Yun Ling confronts her past and finds healing through her connection with a captivating garden.

Author: Tan Twan Eng
List: Recent Prize Winner (Man Booker Prize Shortlist 2012)
Project: WarWorld War II
Year of publication: 2011
Pages: 335





Plot Complexity: moderate
Language Complexity: moderate
Ideas Complexity: moderate

The Garden of Evening Mists showcases a language that falls within the upper-intermediate level (B2), employing moderately complex vocabulary and sentence structures. The novel explores thought-provoking ideas surrounding memory, loss, healing, and personal identity in the aftermath of war, delving into deeper themes while remaining accessible to a wider range of readers. The plot exhibits a moderate level of complexity, with interwoven story lines and nonlinear elements that add depth and intrigue to the narrative.


Malaya, 1951. Yun Ling Teoh, the scarred lone survivor of a brutal Japanese wartime camp, seeks solace among the jungle-fringed tea plantations of Cameron Highlands. 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 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, Yung Ling finds herself intimately drawn to the gardener and his art, while all around them a communist guerrilla war rages. But the Garden of Evening Mists remains a place of mystery. Who is Aritomo and how did he come to leave Japan? And is the real story of how Yun Ling managed to survive the war perhaps the darkest secret of all?


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