Tan Twan Eng was born in Penang, but lived in various places in Malaysia as a child. He studied law through the University of London, and later worked as an advocate and solicitor in one of Kuala Lumpur's most reputable law firms. He has a first-dan ranking in akido and is a strong proponent for the conservation of heritage buildings. He spent a year travelling around South Africa, and currently lives in Cape Town where he is working on his second book.
Note: In traditional Chinese style, the family name precedes the given name(s). Tan is the author's family name, Twan Eng his given names. Some authors choose to anglicize their names for the purposes of publishing in English, so that their family name appears on the book cover last not first, others such as Tan Twan Eng don't.
However, English language databases inevitably place the family name last - hence the discrepancy between the way Tan Twan Eng's name appears on the book jacket and how it appears at BookBrowse.
Tan Twan Eng's website
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Why did you write about this particular moment in Malaysian history?
Ive been interested in this period since I was a boy, and Ive been reading up on it and collecting materials and books on it for a long time. Its a time which appeals to me, perhaps because its so soaked in nostalgia. Things seemed to have been done with more style then, there was a greater emphasis that things had to be done properly.
When I began writing The Gift of Rain, it seemed only natural to me that I set it in that era. The story also required it to be, of course, because I wanted to write about the Japanese Occupation of Malaya and how it affected my characters.
Who do you identify with the most in the novel?
I identify myself with many of the characters in The Gift of Rain from Philip, to Endo, to Michiko and all the other characters. While the novel isnt autobiographical in terms of the plot elements, it does contain many of my views on life, the philosophies which have influenced me, and the questions about life which I often ask myself and wiser people around me.
What does Philip Hutton want in life? What is important to him?
Philip wants like all of us to find a place to belong to. I think...
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