Tan Twan Eng: 'Translated fiction forces readers to look outwards, to the world'
The Booker-shortlisted Malaysian novelist talks about being a voracious reader as a child - and why he is looking for novels that speak to both the head and the heart
International Booker Prize 2023 Judge
Tan Twan Eng is a Booker-shortlisted Malaysian novelist
Tan Twan Eng was born in Penang, Malaysia, and grew up in Kuala Lumpur. He is of Straits Chinese descent and speaks English, Penang Hokkien, and Malay, as well as some Cantonese.
He studied law at University of London and was an intellectual property lawyer in Kuala Lumpur before becoming a full-time author. His debut novel, The Gift of Rain, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2007.
The Garden of Evening Mists, his second novel, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012, more about which can be read here. It also won the Man Asian Literary Prize in 2012 and the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction in 2013, as well as being shortlisted for the Dublin IMPAC Prize in 2014. It has been adapted into an award-winning film.
His novels have been translated into more than 15 languages. His third novel, The House of Doors, will be published in spring 2023. He has a first-dan ranking in aikido and divides his time between Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and Cape Town, South Africa.
He is a judge for the International Booker Prize 2023.