To him writing means ‘creating something that will hopefully last a few generations.’ And Malaysian writer Tan Twan Eng’s novels, two of them in five years, look well like on the way to be classics. The Gift of Rain takes place in Penang, before and during the Second World War; The Garden of Evening Mists is set in Cameron , Highlands, during the Malayan Emergency, after the Second World War.
His debut novel The Gift of Rain hoisted its then fledgling publisher the Myrmidon Books on to the Booker wagon in 2007, and later his second title The Garden of Evening Mists went on to be shortlisted for the Booker in 2012, and won the Man Asian Literary Prize of the same year.
Here’s the interview he gave me for the second issue of the Earthen Lamp Journal, which I co-edit.
SB: The Garden of Evening Mists is only the second book in the Man Asian Literary Prize history to be awarded to a book written in English, the rest have been translations. How much do you think writing and writers in English as a Second Language have come to be accepted in the English speaking countries in the recent times?
TTE: I can’t speak for those writers you’re referring to, as I write and think and dream in English, but there appears to be a growing interest in novels translated from other languages into English. The titles on the shortlists of the Man Asian Literary Prize over the years seem to indicate this.
Whether a translated novel is accepted and embraced by the English-speaking countries would depend on many factors, including the quality of the writing and its translation. It would also depend on how extensively it’s been promoted, and here the media plays a crucial role in giving more column inches to these translated novels, through reviews and interviews with the authors and translators. Continue reading “Interview with Tan Twan Eng, Man Asian Literary Prize 2012 winner.”