Tan won for his novel “The Garden of Evening Mists,” which follows a survivor of a concentration camp who goes to work for the former gardener of the Japanese emperor. The author’s book “The Gift of Rain” was nominated for the longlist for the Man Booker Prize in 2007. He is the first author from Malaysia to take the prize.
Maya Jaggi, the chair of judges for the award, said “Garden” had “stylistic poise and probing intelligence.”
"Taking its aesthetic cues from the artful deceptions of Japanese landscape gardening, it opens up a startling perspective on converging histories, using the feints and twists of fiction to explore its themes of personal and national honour; love and atonement; memory and forgetting; and the disturbing co-existence of cultural refinement and barbarism,” Jaggi said.
Tan told Monitor writer Rebecca L. Weber that he didn’t know much about gardening when he started writing the book.
“I’m not a gardener to start with and I’m not very much into nature,” says Tan. “So when I had the idea for the book, I was reluctant. I had to have the feel of it, so I started some planting too. You have to take your gloves off and feel the soil. It’s very dirty.” (Check out the full interview here.)
Twenty thousand pounds, or $30,000, is awarded to the winner.
The people behind the literary prize announced in October that it was looking for new sponsorship and an announcement about who could be taking on the award is expected in April, according to Reuters.