Book Review: The Samurai's Garden by Gail Tsukiyama

For Book Club Meeting: Saturday, 25th June 2011.
Venue: Dr. Nishi Singh’s residence. Time: 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm


Till today, the very name of leprosy, however mild in manner the disease may be, will repel us with its thought. The energy of the book, THE SAMURAI’s GARDEN by Gail Tsukiyama is captured retaining how the horrific malady reduced the most young, the most beautiful, in Japan, into parts of suicidal death or utter seclusion from society and their dear families. The year is 1937 – the year when World War II bombarded China and Japan. The book supports a cast of four characters mainly – Stephen, a young Chinese man sent to his family’s summer home in Japan from Hongkong; Matsu, the caretaker of the summer home of Stephen; Sachi, the woman who was struck by leprosy in her teens; and Kinzo – a friend of Matso and Sachi.

World War II thematization and the bloody clashes between China and Japan, put together points of interest for the reader. Gail Tsukiyama is herself born to a Chinese mother and a Japanese father, and now lives in El Cerrito, California.

For the sake of slow easy reading, the novel makes it. The subject of World War II and the rage of leprosy in those times being hardly curable, is well handled by the author. You cannot wait for the encyclopedia of statistic to drop into your hands through the novel but the leper’s colony in the village of Yamaguchi left a seed of stirring in my mind.

THE SAMURAI’S GARDEN provides with the conclusion that no matter what conflicts nations have politically, the belief-system of true friendships is to love, care. And this rationalism cannot be influenced by the differences of caste or creed.

Geeta Chhabra


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