The novel The Garden of Evening Mists by Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng has been named as the winner of the 2012 Man Asian Literary Prize. The story takes place immediately after Japan’s wartime occupation of Malaysia, then known as Malaya, and was praised by the judges as “a novel of subtle power and redemptive grace.” Tan beat four other authors for the prestigious Asian literature prize, and his book was recognized as only the second winner to have been written in English.
The Garden of Evening Mists focuses on a young graduate of law school who was also the only survivor of a Japanese work camp. The character then discovers the only Japanese garden in Malaya, and forms a relationship with the secretive owner and creator. Tan, who has written one other novel, was awarded the prize of $30,000.
The Malaysian author’s work was among the five novels shortlisted for the prize, which also included The Briefcase, by Japan’s Hiromi Kawakami, a story that told of an office worker in her late 30s. The other entries on the list were Between Clay and Dust by Musharraf Ali Farooqi of Pakistan, Silent House by Turkey’s Orhan Pamuk, and Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil of India.