The Gift of Rain
By (author) Tan Twan Eng
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.
"Glorious ... Rain is a gift indeed, as robustly absorbing as it is achingly poignant."—USA Today
"A true saga ... The Gift of Rain overflows with mesmerizing beauty and wonder ... an eloquent tale about friendship transforms into a frightful chronicle of betrayal and survival."—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"The Gift of Rain sends the reader back into the world of Somerset Maugham-the waning British Empire, the simmering discord between classes and races, the thick tropical surroundings that are both beautiful and suffocating-but at a different angle. Maugham cast a cynical eye on human nature and its frailties; Tan Twan Eng looks upon them with compassion, like a creator might view the imperfections of his handiwork."—Cleveland Plain Dealer
"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 .... The Gift of Rain is a gift to read."—San Francisco Chronicle
"Beautifully written and deeply moving, Tan Twan Eng's debut novel is one of the best books I've ever read .... Anyone who thinks the novel is in decline should read this one."—Philadelphia Inquirer
Tan Twan Eng was born in Penang, Malaysia, but lived in various places in Malaysia as a child. He worked as an Intellectual Property lawyer before resigning from his position to write his novel, The Gift of Rain. His second novel, The Garden of Evening Mists, will be published in the United Kingdom in February 2012.
The Gift of Rain was nominated for the Man Booker Prize, and has been translated into Italian, Spanish, Greek, Romanian, Czech and Serbian.
Tan Twan Eng lives in Cape Town where he is working on his third novel.