Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng wins Walter Scott Prize

Tan Twan Eng Tan Twan Eng travelled from South Africa to pick up his prize in Melrose

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Malaysian author Tan Twan Eng has won the £25,000 Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction for his second novel The Garden of Evening Mists.

He travelled from his home in South Africa to be at the ceremony in Melrose in the Scottish Borders.

He received his prize from the Duke of Buccleuch at a special event during the Borders Book Festival.

The Garden of Evening Mists is the first novel by an overseas writer to have won the four-year-old prize.

A new rule was introduced last year making books by authors from the Commonwealth eligible for entry.

The novel prevailed over a strong shortlist including Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, which has already carried off some of the UK's most prestigious literary awards, and novels by English writers Rose Tremain, Pat Barker, and Anthony Quinn, and by Australian author Thomas Keneally.

Earlier this year Tan Twan Eng won the Man Asian Literary Prize with the same book.

The Scott Prize judges commented: "All the authors on this year's shortlist have written wonderful books, illuminating times and breathing life into personalities in a way that is enlightening and which brings lasting pleasure to the reader.

"However, The Garden of Evening Mists is the book that left the deepest imprint on us.

"The poignancy of both remembering and forgetting is what this book is all about."

They said one of the strengths of the Walter Scott Prize was its "broad reach".

"Set in the jungle-clad highlands of Malaya, this year's winner leads us into the troubled aftermath of World War Two," they added.

"It is pungent and atmospheric; a rich, enigmatic, layered novel in which landscapes part and merge, and part again."

The award ceremony in Melrose was presented by James Naughtie.

Earlier in the day, the authors had the opportunity to tour Scott's home, Abbotsford House, which reopens to the public on 4 July following extensive refurbishment.

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