This story reminded me again that the effects of individual inhumane acts in wartime rebound through generations of individuals … both those who suffered abuse and those who inflicted it.
Plot: Set in the Cameron Highlands region of Malaysia, the story traces Yun Ling, now a respected judge, who had been a prisoner of war. After the war, she is apprenticed to Aritomo whose garden is called “Evening Mists”. Yun Ling is physically and emotionally scarred from the wartime atrocities, and she is haunted by the fact that her sister had died in the camp from which she escaped. The many layers of this story explore, among other themes, the effects of war and the role of memory.
Quotes from the book: “She (Emily) touches my wrist lightly. ‘ We might be suffering from different illnesses, but it means the same thing in the end, doesn’t it? Our memories are dying.’ We do not speak for a few moments. Then she says, ‘At my age, you know what I wish for? That I should die while I can still remember who I am, who I used to be.” Page 178
“Are all of us the same, I wonder, navigating our lives by interpreting the silences between words spoken, analyzing the returning echoes of our memory in order to chart the terrain, in order to make sense of the world around us?” Page 317
Reviews: “a strong, quiet novel” Full review: New York Times
“tantalisingly evocative” Full review The Independent
Adaptation: The Garden of Evening Mists is a 2019 film by Malaysian film production company Astro Shaw .