Jul 23, 2008

Book Review: The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama


The samurai's garden has a pond with carp, a wooden bridge, pine trees, among other things, and is in a small town near the sea, a couple of hours from the city of Kobe.

The novel The Samurai's Garden is written by Gail Tsukiyama, an author who has a Chinese mother and Japanese father and who lives in California. Her novel is set in Japan, and is about a Chinese man who grew up in China but who is visiting his father in a small seaside town near Kobe to get away from the war back home and to recover from tuberculosis. Ironically, the war at home in China is the Sino-Japanese war, when the Japanese take over Peking and eventually Shanghai, and later, Hong Kong.

The young man is taken care of by a taciturn man, who has served his father's family for years and who loves to garden. While convalescing in Japan, the young man meets and gets to know two young girls who live in the small town as well as a woman who lives in a leper's colony but who comes to help the "samurai" caretaker with the gardening.

That's where I am at the moment in the book. There are many sections that are quotable, though I haven't included here any quotes from the Samurai's Garden. I can only say that the peaceful environment of the garden, with a convalescing Chinese man being taken care of by a quiet and sensitive Japanese gardener is in direct contrast to the situation in China, which they hear about in the news and from letters.

I'm fascinated by stories of Shanghai during the late 1930s under Japanese occupation, from all points of view.

Also reading The Stone of Heaven about an emperor's obsession with jadeite, a green stone found in the southwest of China. Many of the pieces he had carved are in Beijing's Forbidden City.

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1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for referring me to your review; it was excellent. I really need to get to this one soon.

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