The Samurai's Garden

Gail Tsukiyama, Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (211p) ISBN 978-0-312-11813-6
In this beautifully crafted second novel by Tsukiyama (Women of the Silk), the world outside the small Japanese village of Tarumi is a world of polarities: East vs. West, Japanese vs. Chinese, etc. Within Tarumi, however, a person can exist as simply as a polished stone in a garden. When Chinese university student Stephen Chan's tuberculosis pushes him to the thin border of death, his father sends him from their home in Hong Kong to the family's beach house in Tarumi. The year is 1937, and the Japanese Imperial Army is on a steamrolling conquest through China. In idyllic Tarumi, however, Stephen swims, paints and grows healthier, meanwhile befriending Matsu, the caretaker of the house. Strong, silent Matsu is the epitome of the samurai, displaying his aristocratic heritage in the tender way that he cares for his exquisite garden. The storm that demolishes years of work is a counterpart to the grief that washes over Matsu when he thinks of his beloved, Sachi, who is a leper. Becoming engrossed in the lovers' tragic story, Stephen stays on in Tarumi, aware that by doing so he is avoiding a confrontation with his own father, who has confessed to an affair that will break up the family. Tsukiyama's writing is crystalline and delicate, notably in her evocation of time and place. This quiet tale of affection between people whose countries are at war speaks of a humanity that transcends geopolitics. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/27/1995
Release date: 03/01/1995
Open Ebook - 224 pages - 978-1-4299-6514-9
Paperback - 224 pages - 978-0-312-14407-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-5159-1993-3
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