In this country, Dec. 7, 1941 is still the “date which will live in infamy,” when waves of Japanese aircraft began their devastating surprise assault on Pearl Harbor. The day is remembered in different parts of the world, however, for different reasons. On that same day (which was Dec. 8 on the other side of the International Date Line) Hirohito also commenced attacks on British Malaya.
Thousands of civilians wound up in Japanese prison camps after this invasion: Indians, Straits Chinese, Malays. Tan Twan Eng’s sumptuous second novel, “The Garden of Evening Mists,” named last month to the 2012 Man Booker prize short list, imagines the story of one survivor. It is a thoughtful book full of war’s exiles and survivors, one that breaks down the barriers between the two as it meditates on forgiveness.