Gardens are magical places – images of Nature and Culture, models of paradise, spaces where plants live in war and peace, co-operation and competition. It is 1942 and Singapore is Syonanto, part of the Japanese Empire, where violence and starvation stalk the streets but in the Singapore Botanic Gardens a bizarre tranquillity reigns between warring nations and even love awakes as old identities melt away in the heady atmosphere of the Orchid House.
From its unique perspective and with a mixture of humour and romance, The Devil’s Garden pictures a formative moment in the emergence of Singapore, where loyalties are less secure than those of the official histories and truth is anything but simple.
Love and war in Singapore under the Japanese flag.
About the author
Nigel Barley is the author of twenty books with Penguin, Time Warner, Monsoon Books and Little,Brown. He originally trained as an anthropologist and worked in West Africa, spending time with the Dowayo people of North Cameroon. He survived to move to the Ethnography Department of the British Musem and it was in this connection that he first travelled to Southeast Asia. After forrays into Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan and Burma, Barley settled on Indonesia as his principal research interest and has worked on both the history and contemporary culture of that area. After escaping from the museum, he is now a writer and broadcaster and divides his time between London and Indonesia.