First published in 1956, Han Suyin’s magnificent novel about the Emergency Period in Malaya and Singapore evokes all the colour and conflict of a land where, in the late 1940s and early 50s, a bitter guerrilla war was fought between communist terrorists lurking in the Malayan jungles and British, Australian and New Zealand armed forces. With infinite sharpness and feeling, she writes about the intertwining lives of many people caught up in the clash of powerful forces. Dogged, downtrodden Chinese rubber tappers, a pretty girl called Small Cloud for whom betrayal has become a way of life, and the stiff, aloof world of the British administrators and their “mems”.
I have read her most famous novel 'A Many-Splendoured Thing' set in the hectic over-crowded world of colonial post war Hong Kong, but never this book. The title comes from an old Chinese Ballad:
I will go to the forest for justice.
The wind for my garment I wear.
....and the rain my drink.
I'm looking forward to reading it.