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Kate Whitehead Interviews Man Asian Literary Prize Winner Tan Twan Eng

The Gift of RainThe Garden of Evening MistsEarlier this month Tan Twan Eng was awarded the Man Asian Literary Prize in Hong Kong for his novel The Garden of Evening Mists. Huffington Post blogger Kate Whitehead caught up with him in this vibrant city for an interview.

Twan spoke about how he “had zero interest in gardening” when he first started writing his second novel, but that as he researched it he found it reminded him of writing: “The pruning is deciding where to put your sentence, your comma, where to begin the next paragraph.”

Whitehead commented that Twan ” begins with something big — a large subject, a big event – but it’s the small things that he’s interested in and he digs his way in from there.” Twan spoke about how he had been bullied as a boy and about the nature of memories: “I think memories are the most important things to us, even bad ones. You can’t separate bad from good, they are all in this huge pot and different things come up whenever you stir them.”

Tan Twan Eng, the winner of this year’s Man Asian Literary Prize, says he came up with the title of his book without much fuss or drama.

The Garden of Evening Mists — it’s exactly what it says it is. There’s a garden and it’s in the mountains so it gets misty. It’s not false advertising,” says the 40-year-old lawyer-turned-author who picked up the coveted prize at a glitzy black-tie dinner at the Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong on Thursday.

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