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Beautiful,
Insightful,
Inspiring

3 reviews

The Samurai's Garden : A Novel
by Gail Tsukiyama

Published: 1996-04-15
Paperback : 224 pages
19 members reading this now
27 clubs reading this now
15 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 3 of 3 members

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 ...

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Introduction

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.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

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Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions from the Publisher:

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?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

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Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by jane.morgan (see profile) 05/21/18

 
by DValliant (see profile) 03/24/18

 
  "The Samurai's Garden"by ChrisA (see profile) 04/14/13

One of my favorite books. Lyrical prose, delicate in presentation, heartfelt story and complex, intersting characters

 
  "The Samurai's Garden"by vfkos (see profile) 11/19/10

A very well written book and enjoyed by all the members of the club. I recommend it as a must read.

 
  "Characters and plot layers are revealed slowly and lyrically."by hlarson (see profile) 02/22/09

Tsukiyama's book is like a poem; rhythm and pace are as important as the subjects. The story is more than a coming of age story, more than a romance. Our book club found it delicate, contemplative, complex... (read more)

 
  "It was a gentle, zen like reading experience for me"by collins2005 (see profile) 02/20/09

This was a small book but it packed a big wallop. Reading about the Oriental cultural in the 30's was very enlightening and characters were wonderful.

 
  " 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 hou"by cimlibrarian (see profile) 02/19/09

One of the most insightful book discussions our book group has had. All who attended found the book an easy to read but with many point to ponder. Highly recommended for other book groups.

 
  "Beautiful!"by niferwolfe (see profile) 03/18/08

A wonderful tale of the awakening the beauty within.

 
  "Crisp zen-like prose for a complex topic"by drvaldvm (see profile) 08/14/07

Tsukiyama takes a complex story with many layers and relates it through beautifully clear, simple prose. A pleasure to all senses while reading!

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