It's an immense honour for a first-time novelist ... I received the news on Tuesday night and was completely stunned - I still am! I am thrilled to be in such esteemed company like McEwan and A.N.Wilson.Meanwhile it's Booker silly season, and this year, thanks to Twan we feel we have a ringside seat.
I'm also gratified that the judges are open to voices coming from South-East Asia. There is a huge pool of talented writers here waiting to be discovered by the rest of the world, with compelling stories to tell.
Sam Jordison on the Guardian blog has decided to discuss one book from the list each week working down the list in alphabetical order, even though that means the final book will be discussed long after the prize is awarded!
Of course, given a name like Tan Twan Eng, of course the surname must be Eng (!), and therefore The Gift of Rain gets discussed in week 4!
(I remember Viz getting all humpfy in the comments on this blog one day about Malaysian Chinese authors switching round their names so the family name comes last e.g. Tinling Choong, Yang-May Ooi, but now you see how confused a western audience can be!)
This is not the only Chinese name that gives problems on the list: Sam Jordison finds Peter Ho Davies middle name "rather amusing" as he has a go at judging the longlisted books by their covers. Of The Gift of Rain he says:
I'm not sure what the butterflies and torn bits of wallpaper signify, and the red and gold type has unfortunate echoes of a cheap Chinese restaurant. All the same, the back-cover blurb about aikido and knowledge coming "at a terrible price" sounds exciting and I'm already biased in the book's favour as it's a product of one of the two independent publisher underdogs on the list.(My favourite covers, by the way, are those for Lloyd Jones' Mr. Pip and Peter Ho Davies The Welsh Girl.)
And talking of Wales, did you know that The Gift of Rain is actually set ... ahem ... in Penarth?
Our Mr. Eng is learning exciting new things about his novel all the time!