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Evening Is the Whole Dayby Preeta Samarasan
"First novelists often get missed in the cacophony of new books from established or popular writers. And so it was with Preeta Samarasan, a Malayasian native and a recent graduate of the University of Michigan whose sweeping novel about a Tamil family in a changing Malaysia moved quietly along book circles this year..." Geeta Sharma-Jensen, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (read the entire Milwaukee Journal Sentinel review)
Synopses & Reviews
Set in Malaysia, this spellbinding and already internationally acclaimed debut introduces us to the prosperous Rajasekharan family as its closely guarded secrets are slowly peeled away.
When Chellam, the familys rubber-plantation-bred servant girl, is dismissed for unnamed crimes, her banishment is the latest in a series of recent, precipitous losses that have shaken six-year-old Aashas life. A few short weeks before, Aashas grandmother Paati passed away under mysterious circumstances and her older sister, Uma, departed for Columbia University--leaving Aasha alone to cope with her mostly absent father, her bitter mother, and her imperturbable older brother.
Beginning with Aashas grandfathers ascension from Indian coolie to illustrious resident of the Big House on Kingfisher Lane, and going on to tell the story of how Appa, the familys Oxford-educated patriarch, courted Amma, the humble girl next door, Evening Is the Whole Day moves gracefully backward and forward in time to answer the many questions that haunt the family: What was Chellams unforgivable crime? Why was Uma so intent on leaving? How and why did Paati die? What did Aasha see? And, underscoring all of these mysteries: What ultimately became of Appas once-grand dreams for his family and his country?
Sweeping in scope, sumptuously lyrical, and masterfully constructed, Evening Is the Whole Day offers an unflinching look at relationships between parents and children, brothers and sisters, the wealthy and the poor, a country and its citizens--and the ways in which each sometimes fails the other. Illuminating in heartbreaking detail one Indian immigrant familys secrets and lies while exposing the complex underbelly of Malaysia itself, Preeta Samarasans debut is a mesmerizing and vital achievement sure to earn her a place alongside Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, and Zadie Smith.
When the Rajasekharan familys 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 passed away under mysterious circumstances, and Uma, her older sister, left for Columbia University, forever. Aasha is left stranded in a family, and a country, slowly going to pieces.
Circling through years of family history to arrive at the moment of Umas departure, Evening is the Whole Day illuminates in heartbreaking detail one Indian immigrant familys layers of secrets and lies, while exposing the complex underbelly of Malaysia itself. Sweeping in scope, exuberantly lyrical and masterfully constructed, Preeta Samarasan's debut is a mesmerizing and vital achievement, perfect as a reading group selection, and sure to earn her a place alongside Arundhati Roy and Zadie Smith.
About the Author
Preeta Samarasan was born and raised in Malaysia, but moved to the United States in high-school. She 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/Hyphen Magazine short-story award. She currently lives in central France with her husband and dog.
Table of Contents
CONTENTS 1. The Ignominious Departure of Chellamservant Daughter-of-Muniandy 1 2. Big House Beginnings 17 3. The Necessary Sacrifice of the Burdensome Relic 29 4. An Old-Fashioned Courtship 44 5. The Recondite Return of Paati the Dissatisfied 67 6. After Great Expectations 91 7. Power Struggles 110 8. What Aasha Saw 136 9. The Futile Incident of the Sapphire Pendant 175 10. The God of Gossip Conquers the Garden Temple 199 11. The Final Visit of the Fleet-footed Uncle 224 12. The Unlucky Revelation of Chellam Newservant 249 13. What Uncle Ballroom Saw 273 14. The Golden Descent of Chellam, the Bringer of Succor 312 15. The Glorious Ascent of Uma the Oldest-Eldest 327 Acknowledgments 340
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