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4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (1,877 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Tan Twan Eng Narrator: Anna Bentinck Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2012 ISBN: 9781470337834
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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, the 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, Yun Ling finds herself intimately drawn to the gardener and his art, while all around them a communist guerilla 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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Quotes & Awards

  • “A strong quiet novel [of] eloquent mystery.”

    New York Times

  • “Beautifully written...Eng is quite simply one of the best novelists writing today.” 

    Philadelphia Inquirer

  • The Garden of Evening Mists offers action-packed, end-of-empire storytelling in the vein of Tan’s compatriot Tash Aw. His fictional garden cultivates formal harmony—but also undermines it. It unmasks sophisticated artistry as a partner of pain and lies. This duality invests the novel with a climate of doubt; a mood—as with Aritomo’s creation—of ‘tension and possibility.’ Its beauty never comes to rest.”


  • “Grace and empathy infuse this melancholy landscape of complex loyalties enfolded by brutal history, creating a novel of peculiar, mysterious, tragic beauty.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “Tan triumphs again, entwining the redemptive power of storytelling with the elusive search for truth, all the while juxtaposing Japan’s inhumane war history with glorious moments of Japanese art and philosophy. All readers in search of spectacular writing will not be disappointed.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • A Kirkus Reviews Top 25 Book, September 2012
  • A 2012 Man Booker Prize Finalist
  • Shortlisted for the 2014 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award
  • A New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • Winner of the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize
  • Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2012

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jane Slack | 2/19/2014

    " This book is so beautifully written. It is full to bursting with rich description. Such a pleasure. I preferred the gentle rumblings in the book to the actual plot bits. So much of the book has nothing happening it seems, but is so so beautiful you can just enjoy the moment. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Eileen | 2/12/2014

    " Slow to begin, but ending made it worth it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Stefanie | 1/26/2014

    " Tan Twan Eng has crafted a hauntingly beautiful work of art, much like the works of art described in the book itself. The characters of the novel are complex, layered and enthralling; they draw the reader into another place and time while also hinting at their universal nature. If you do not see a piece of yourself here, I would be most surprised. The story shifts between the 1980s and the Malayan Emergency with a powerful backdrop of World War 2 and the Japanese camps that brutalised men, women and children. The lead character, Teoh Yun Ling, is powerful, clever and desperate to remember while simultaneously learning to forget. The twists and turns of the plot are intricately woven and the Japanese garden that plays a central role in the story could be regarded as a character in itself. But, to say more would ruin the book. This is a finely crafted story and is one I will revisit many times, especially over time. Read it, then you'll understand. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Rachel | 1/18/2014

    " didn't finish because it was borrrrrring "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lana | 1/14/2014

    " The 1st sentence hooked me. However, at times I had trouble following "which year are we in now" as the author went back and forth in time. Definitely recommend it and I now want to read "The Gift of Rain." "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Fran | 1/8/2014

    " Short listed for 2012 Man Booker Award.A very enjoyable read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jeff Carter | 12/31/2013

    " Speechless and hard to find the words to describe the intricacies and wonderfulness of this book. Definitely one of my favorites of all I've read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Terry Douglas | 11/24/2013

    " The most beautiful book...... I hope it wins the Booker this year; it deserves to! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Sheila Maubec | 11/3/2013

    " Fabulous read. I love his work. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Lucinda | 9/10/2013

    " I really enjoyed the themes and the historical elements of this novel. Some of the prose is absolutely beautiful. On the other hand, there is something about the way everything comes together at the end that really irks me. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sushilanair | 8/14/2013

    " I really enjoyed this book partly because it is set in Malaysia where I grew up. I thought it was very true to the Malaysian people. It was an interesting story about coming to terms with the past, about accepting our memories even those of ourselves, worth reading, "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Emma Parsons | 7/24/2013

    " Absolutely loved it. Learned a lot and loved the atmosphere, story, soul-searching... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ann Ang | 5/29/2013

    " Beautifully tactile and I will never think of Cameron Highlands the same way again. That said, the plot gets a little syrupy and misty about half-way into the book... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Amandamcc | 3/16/2013

    " Really enjoyed this book but it proved to be a marmite book when reviewed at book club. Beautiful lyrical prose were somewhat at odds with the harsh reality of the tale. Hard to empathise with the main character but learned much about Malaya and Japan. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lenah | 3/16/2013

    " Beautiful, elegant love story. There is no explicit declaration of love, no obvious scene of love, yet readers can feel the water bubbling underneath. To be continued... "

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About the Author

Tan Twan Eng was born in Penang, Malaysia. He worked as an intellectual property lawyer before resigning from his position to write his debut novel, The Gift of Rain, which was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. His following novel, The Garden of Evening Mists, also received critical acclaim and was short-listed for the 2012 Man Booker Prize. He has spoken at several literary festivals around the world, including the Shanghai International Literary Festival, the Perth Writers Festival in Australia, and the Franschkoek Literary Festival in South Aftrica. He lives in Cape Town.

About the Narrator

Anna Bentinck is a British actress who trained at Arts Educational Schools and has worked extensively for BBC Radio. Winner of four AudioFile Earphones Awards, she has provided voices for many audiobooks and such animated series as 64 Zoo Lane. Her film credits include Alice in Wonderland and To the Devil a Daughter.