Saturday, January 23, 2010

Up Penang Hill with Twan Eng

Whenever Hayato Endo, the Japanese aikido master and consular officer at the center of Tan Twan Eng's WW II–era novel The Gift of Rain, needs cardio (and a break from the stresses of international espionage), he hikes up Penang Hill. He forgoes the funicular because he wants "to feel the climb." Follow his three-hour tropical trudge from the Penang Botanic Gardens past British colonial mansions to the 2,723-ft. (833 m) summit, and every aching muscle in you will feel it too. The reward is a breathtaking view of Georgetown and the piratical Strait of Malacca. At the outdoor coffee shack 30 minutes below the peak, ask resting Chinese or Tamil retirees how often they make the climb. Should caffeine fail to boost you to the top, their answer will be the kick in the butt you've needed.

Tim Kindseth on 25 (More) Authentic Asian Experiences in TimeThe Gift of Rain is a great book for putting Penang (and hence Malaysia) on the map.

Twan Eng is interviewed on Eric's blog.  The author describes himself at the moment as :
... irritable, anxious, distracted, exhausted and tense ...
because he is trying to finish the first draft of his second novel. But he still finds time to talk at great length about the books he loves, and why reading is important. There are some great book recommendations here.

The novel has now been translated into many different language, but how often do we think about the translators or the stories about the translations? Here's a fascinating insight into how The Gift of Rain  into  came to be translated into Romanian. Translator Madalina Serban calls the novel :
... a story that transcends cultures and it relates to a very special part of my life.

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