Posted by: koolwine | November 7, 2010

Malaysia: The Gift of Rain

When the Japanese invade his homeland, a young man must decide how to best serve his country, family and friends.

Country Focus: Malaysia

The Gift of Rain
Tan Twan Eng
Weinstein Books, 2008.
432 pgs.

Acclaim: Nominated for the Man Booker Prize

To make a long story short: On the eve of World War II, sixteen-year-old trading scion Philip Hutton  becomes an aikijutsu student and friend of the Japanese Deputy-Counsel, Hayato Endo.  The biracial Hutton, who had just begun to cultivate his relationships with his British half-siblings and Chinese grandfather, now finds himself being castigated on both sides for fraternizing with the enemy.  When Japanese forces take Malaysia and Hutton realizes that he has been used as an unwitting spy, he starts off on a course of action that he hopes will save his family and friends and redeem himself.

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Responses

  1. Holly, I am a bit surprised by your reaction to this book. Nauseated and outraged is pretty strong stuff!! While I can see your point of view, I guess I was more forgiving of a young man in a difficult situation. I agree his relationship with Endo was a bit out of the ordinary for young men. However, I also now understand more about a sensei – student relationship (or don’t understand…) that I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. While I do agree with your outrage with events that occurred in the story, I again was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt as I thought he was learning that he was in over his head. His own outrage and feeling of powerlessness was finally overcome when he decided to go help his friend Kon when he was threatened.

    I guess that I think that the aikido in this book was the sense that Philip felt he had to ‘keep contact’ with his partner (in aikido terms) by which I mean the Japanese, Endo, his father, and his siblings in order to change the situation (like a take-away or kaishi waza (reversal)), or, like the last chapter said, try to protect himself and his partners by ‘taking good ukemi’, or leaving them in a good position for ukemi. He clearly had very mixed results with his efforts.

    So I guess my take is that this was a coming of age story where a young man had to make a lot of very tough decisions, and tried to follow a philosophy and view of life taught him by Endo sensei, and found, like many of us, that despite our best intentions and good will towards others, bad things happen and despite our worst intentions, good things happen. So did the teachings really help him??? I guess that I believe that in the end they did…..

    I hope you don’t mind a long, rambling post with really long sentences! ;^))

    keep reading and writing!
    btw…. Michelle Yeoh totally rocks…..

    Like


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