Evening is the Whole Day

Evening is the Whole Day

Hardback

By (author) Preeta Samarasan

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  • Publisher: FOURTH ESTATE LTD
  • Format: Hardback | 352 pages
  • Dimensions: 159mm x 240mm x 37mm | 590g
  • Publication date: 2 June 2008
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 0007271883
  • ISBN 13: 9780007271887
  • Sales rank: 1,001,190

Product description

'A magical, exuberant tragic-comic vision of post-colonial Malaysia reminiscent of Rushdie and Roy. In prose of acrobatic grace, Samarasan conjures a vibrant portrait, by turns intimate and sweeping, of characters and a country coming of age. The debut of a significant, and thrilling new talent.' Peter Ho Davies Set in Malaysia, this spellbinding, exuberant first novel introduces us to a prosperous Indian immigrant family, as it slowly peels away its closely guarded secrets. When the family's servant girl, Chellam, is dismissed from the big house for unnamed crimes, it is only the latest in a series of losses that have shaken six-year-old Aasha's life. Her grandmother has passed away under mysterious circumstances and her older sister has disappeared for a new life abroad, with no plans to return. Her parents, meanwhile, seem to be hiding something away - from themselves, and from one another. As the novel tells us the story of the years leading up to these events, we learn what has happened to the hopes and dreams of a family caught up in Malaysia's troubled post-colonial history. What bought the Rajasekharan family to the Big House in Malaysia? What was Chellam's unforgivable crime? Why did the eldest daughter leave the country under strained circumstances? What is Appa - the respectable family patriarch - hiding from his wife and his children? Through this vibrant cast of characters, and through a masterful evocation of the clashes and strains in a country where Malays, Indians and Chinese inhabitants vie for their positions in society, Preeta Samarasan brings us an enthralling saga of one household and the world beyond it.

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Author information

Preeta Samarasan was born and raised in Malaysia and moved to the United States for her high school education. She received her MFA from the University of Michigan, where an early version of this novel won the Hopwood Novel Award. She recently won the Asian American Writer's Workshop short-story award. She lives in France.

Review quote

"Rich, quirky and colourful, EVENING IS THE WHOLE DAY captures not just the sense of a family struggling to deal with its past, but the crazy uncertainty of a country coming to terms with itself. Often funny, sometimes sad, never predictable, this is a novel that announces a unique talent." Tash Aw "A wonderfully engaging novel, poignant yet comical, about the contradictions and hazards inherent in a modern, postcolonial world." M.G. Vassanji, author of The In-Between World of Vikram Lall "Preeta Samarasan's passionate, striking book, stunned with light and heat, is full of the memory of enchantment and the enchantment of memory. Samarasan cultivates with brilliance the taut battle between the public and familial being, and the hidden and fragile inner self, trapped in a world of myth and mystery." Susanna Moore 'An accomplished and magical debut.' New Books Magazine

Editorial reviews

A complex web of public and private histories shared by an Indian immigrant family is painstakingly examined in the ambitious first novel from Malaysia native Samarasan.The Rajasekharans, heirs to a commercial fortune dominated by a successful rubber plantation, seem blessed. Patriarch Raju is a prominent attorney; his beautiful wife Vasanthi has risen far above her humble origins; their brilliant and beautiful eldest daughter Uma is on her way to a prestigious American university (in 1980, when the story's major actions occur), and her younger brother Suresh and sister Aasha seem gifted and responsible enough to emulate the much-admired Uma. But secrets lurk in the Big House on Kingfisher Lane, where Uma's imminent departure is overshadowed by the suspicious death of her paternal grandmother ("Paati"), as well as the dismissal (for undisclosed reasons) of house servant girl Chellam - whose dirt-poor family provides a counterpoint to the privileged lives of her employers. Six-year-old Aasha communes matter-of-factly with her family's ghosts (including that of the outraged Paati). And Aasha's dreamlike discoveries are deftly paralleled by lengthy flashbacks which reveal - with both considerable skill and wearying overemphasis - guilty burdens borne by the ambitious Raju (who seems to have everything and wants even more); both Vasanthi and Paati, each of whom has overstepped marital boundaries; the ever-embittered Chellam; and - a late-arriving yet crucial character - black-sheep "Uncle Ballroom" (Balu), a pathetic underachiever inhibited by all he knows and cannot reveal.Samarasan has probably attempted too much in this overstuffed debut. But she scores impressively with the creation of an intimate, gossipy omniscient narrative voice that's the perfect vehicle for her slowly unfolding, intricately layered story. (Kirkus Reviews)