We had the shortlist for this year's Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, we've had a look at the physical award which goes with the monetary one, and now we have the winner: Tan Twan Eng for The Garden of Evening Mists.
The judging panel had this to say:
"All the authors on this year's shortlist have written wonderful books, illuminating times and breathing life into personalities in a way that is enlightening and which brings lasting pleasure to the reader. However The Garden of Evening Mists is the book that left the deepest imprint on us.
The poignancy of both remembering and forgetting is what this book is all about. One of the strengths of the Walter Scott Prize is that we can be broad in our reach. Set in the jungle-clad highlands of Malaya, this year's winner leads us into the troubled aftermath of World War Two. It is pungent and atmospheric; a rich, enigmatic, layered novel in which landscapes part and merge, and part again."
For those of us who are interested in details, the judging criteria include "elegance and strength of writing, characterisation, authenticity of dialogue, the truthfulness of the novel to its period, and the importance of what it tells us about our world in the past and today," and the Walter Scott Prize's definition of 'historical' is "where the majority of events described take place at least 60 years before the publication of the novel. This definition comes from Walter Scott’s subtitle for Waverley: ‘Tis Sixty Years Since’ ".
Have you read the winning book? I haven't yet, though it's here on the pile, but in our recent post on 'bespoke books', Di nominated Tan Twan Eng, commenting on his books' limpid quality. I'm looking forward to discovering it.