Evening Is the Whole Day: Book summary and reviews of Evening Is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan

Evening Is the Whole Day

By Preeta Samarasan

Evening Is the Whole Day
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  • Published in USA  May 2008,
    352 pages.

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Book Summary

Set in Malaysia, this spellbinding first novel by an acclaimed young writer introduces us to the prosperous Rajasekharan family as it slowly peels away its closely guarded secrets.

When the family's rubber-plantation servant girl is dismissed for unnamed crimes, it is only the latest in a series of precipitous losses that have shaken six-year-old Aashas life. In the space of several weeks her grandmother died under mysterious circumstances and her older sister, Uma, left for Columbia University, gone forever.

Circling through years of family history to arrive at the moment of Umas departure stranding her worshipful younger sister in a family, and a country, slowly going to pieces Evening Is the Whole Day illuminates in heartbreaking detail one Indian immigrant family's layers of secrets and lies, while exposing the complex underbelly of Malaysia itself.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[T]he language bursts with energy, and Samarasan has a sure hand juggling so many distinct characters." - Publishers Weekly.

"Starred Review. This book is destined to be highly sought after by fans of Zadie Smith and Arundhati Roy." - Library Journal.

"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.

A magical, exuberant, tragicomic 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 trilling new talent." - Peter Ho Davies.

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Reader Reviews

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by beaperson
Wonderful writer
I couldn't put this book down, which is saying a lot. The detail was amazing, the characters so well drawn. I only wish there had been some bit of joy, some hope; a multi-layered, beautifully done tragedy.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Barbara
Amazing debut novel
Evening is the Whole Day is a beautifully written novel about a wealthy Indian family in Malaysia. Everything is not as it seems in this epic family saga and Samarasan utilizes rich prose and well-developed characters in unveiling the many layers of the families dark secrets. The story is told from various points of view in a seamless and unconfusing way. A wonderful book!

Rated 2 of 5 of 5 by Joanne
Not a Compelling Beginning....
I just couldn't get into this book, perhaps because it requires more time than I was willing to give. The first chapter just wasn't compelling enough to continue. Sorry but I really didn't like this one at all.

Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Mary Buss
Evening is the Whole Day
I am enjoying the book very much.

Rated 3 of 5 of 5 by Anita
Nothing Matters
This book was interesting in that it gives an intimate picture about the culture and history of Malaysia, a country of which I know little. Her descriptions of everyday life are beautiful and really capture the moment in time. However, I found that there was too much detail which was unnecessary and somewhat boring. I was also put off by use of foreign words that were not explained. Also I couldn't relate with the characters and didn't really care what happened to them.

Rated 4 of 5 of 5 by Wendy
Evening Is the Whole Day
This is an excellent, horrible book. It is wonderfully written and very engaging. The story is basically told in reverse; we know what happens but not necessarily why until the last few chapters. The plot and characters truly embody the idea of the "sins of the fathers." No one in the book is blameless and few are likable, and yet it is too engaging to put down. The disturbing issues of political climate, class issues and headline crimes in Malaysia are a backdrop for the even more unsettling relationships between husband and wife, lover and lover, parent and child, brother and sister, old and young, servant and landowner. The book does end with some hope and is well worth the read! There were times when I was revolted and disgusted, but I kept on reading.

...10 more reader reviews

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More Information

More Information

Preeta Samarasan was born and raised in Malaysia but moved to the United States in high school. After spending several years ostensibly working on a dissertation on gypsy music in France, but all the while writing fiction, she decided to switch tracks. She recently received her M.F.A. from the University of Michigan, where an early version of this novel received the Hopwood Novel Award' she also recently won the Asian American Writer's Workshop short-story award. Her debut is being compared to the works of Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, and Zadie Smith. Translation rights have been sold in 14 territories to date.

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