The Samurai's Garden: A Novel (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

I have long been recommending this fine novel to readers of all ages & persuasions. Ms Tsukiyama is half Japanese and half Chinese and brings a unique perspective to this tale of a young Chinese man who is sent to a small village in Japan on the eve of WWII to recover from TB. The only other person in the house is an old gardener whom he calls The Samurai. Through this gardener/mentor he meets a village of lepers and finds a new compassion. There is also a wonderful & poignant love story. -Bobby

— From Bobby's Staff Favorites


The daughter of a Chinese mother and a Japanese father, Tsukiyama uses the Japanese invasion of China during the late 1930s as a somber backdrop for her unusual story about a 20-year-old Chinese painter named Stephen who is sent to his family's summer home in a Japanese coastal village to recover from a bout with tuberculosis. Here he is cared for by Matsu, a reticent housekeeper and a master gardener. Over the course of a remarkable year, Stephen learns Matsu's secret and gains not only physical strength, but also profound spiritual insight. Matsu is a samurai of the soul, a man devoted to doing good and finding beauty in a cruel and arbitrary world, and Stephen is a noble student, learning to appreciate Matsu's generous and nurturing way of life and to love Matsu's soulmate, gentle Sachi, a woman afflicted with leprosy.

About the Author

Born to a Chinese mother and a Japanese father in San Francisco, Gail Tsukiyama now lives in El Cerrito, California. Her novels include Dreaming Water, The Language of Threads, The Samurai's Garden, and Night of Many Dreams.

Praise For…

“Tsukiyama brings a fluid, smooth elegance to the complicated story she tells.” —The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

“An exraordinary graceful and moving novel about goodness and beauty. Tsukiyama is a wise and spellbinding storytelling.” —Booklist

“Beautifully crafted . . . Tsukiyama's writing is crystalline and delicate, and notably in her evocative of time and place.” —Publishers Weekly

Product Details
ISBN: 9780312144074
ISBN-10: 0312144075
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Publication Date: April 15th, 1996
Pages: 224
Language: English