Evening Is the Whole Day Summary and Reviews

Evening Is the Whole Day

by Preeta Samarasan

Evening Is the Whole Day
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  • Published in USA  May 2008
    352 pages
    Genre: Novels

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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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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.

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!

Mary Buss

Evening is the Whole Day
I am enjoying the book very much.

Linda

Evening Is The Whole Day
Set in Malaysia, the novel revolves around one immigrant Indian family and yet includes so much more--history, politics, race, class, and gender issues. Samarasan's creative imagery paints vivid pictures. In the scene where Amma discovers her suitor is missing the sense of smell because he is blithely unaware of the horrendous odor permeating the dining room, Samarasan writes "In the heavens a chorus of angels with clothes pegs on their ethereal noses began to sing..." Telling the story "in reverse" is akin to visiting a psychiatrist, as we begin to see how and why things are the way they are. Containing a touch of magical realism, this book is a wonderful, fascinating read.

Mary

Evening is the Whole Day
Preeta Samarasan's debut book is an energizing and colorful painting of a family's complex web of lies and secrets. Personally, the reason I read fiction is to escape and become a part of someone else's reality. Here I found myself so taken in by Malaysia, the place, the people and utterly caught in the "high drama" of the family history of the Rajasekharan's. Her story comes to life in each of the characters with a refreshing sense of humor. I couldn't wait to read each page!

Ruth

A spellbinding story
Preeta Samarasan weaves language, time and characters in such a way as to carry the reader into a different culture and history. She creates an even web, teaching and enchanting even as each event and person come to life, showing that what one sees at a given moment in time is really a layered reality that can never be known without all the normally imperceptible small daily realities. Malaysia, its turbulent history and peoples, comes alive in minuscule happenings as they unfold in Samarasan’s impeccable arrangement of time and people. Her people live and breathe, carrying us into their tumultuous yet somnolent life in a spellbinding story that one hates to finish.

...10 more reader reviews

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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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