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Book Clubbing

Introduction

The Samurai's Garden 
by Gail Tsukiyama

Title

Author

Gail Tsukiyama

Gail Tsukiyama

Author Interview

About the Book

On the eve of the Second World War, a young Chinese man is sent to his family's summer home in Japan to recover from tuberculosis. He will rest, swim in the salubrious sea, and paint in the brilliant shoreside light. It will be quiet and solitary. But he meets four local residents - a lovely young Japanese girl and three older people. What then ensues is a tale that readers will find at once classical yet utterly unique. Young Stephen has his own adventure, but it is the unfolding story of Matsu, Sachi, and Kenzo that seizes your attention and will stay with you forever. Tsukiyama, with lines as clean, simple, telling, and dazzling as the best of Oriental art, has created an exquisite little masterpiece. 

About the Author

Gail Tsukiyama is the author of the best-selling novels The Language of Threads, Women of the Silk, The Samurai's Garden and Night of Many Dreams. Born to a Chinese mother and a Japanese father, she grew up in San Francisco and now lives in El Cerrito, California. She earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in English with a concentration in Creative Writing at San Francisco State University. With an understanding of her heritage, Tsukiyama explores the sights, sounds and feelings of China and Japan in her novels. 

Discussion Questions

  1. The title of the novel obviously alludes to Matsu's garden, but to whom else could the title refer as a "Samurai"? Why?
  2. The garden acts as a center or core of the novel. All three central characters (Stephen, Matsu, and Sachi) find some sense of comfort in tending the garden. What are some of the metaphors for the garden and how are they worked out in the novel?
  3. Loneliness, solitude, and isolation are all themes that permeate the novel throughout. How do the three central characters' approaches to these feelings vary, resemble each other, and evolve?
  4. It appears as though Stephen and Sachi are somehow juxtaposed. How is this connection represented and developed?
  5. How is the politically turbulent time at which The Samurai's Garden takes place approached in the novel? Is it a strongly political novel or does the world of Tamuri somehow defy and avoid the political turmoil of the era?
  6. How is Stephen and Keiko's relationship represented? Examine it in relation to the courtships of the past--Kenzo and Sachi, as well as Matsu and Sachi.
  7. As the novel progresses, Stephen stops longing to return to his home and in fact dreads having to leave Tamuri. What provokes this change of heart? Also, how does this sentiment affect the ending of the novel?