Read Evening Is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan Online


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 family’s 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-ySet 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 family’s 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 Aasha’s life. A few short weeks before, Aasha’s 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 Aasha’s grandfather’s 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 family’s 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 Chellam’s 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 Appa’s 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 family’s secrets and lies while exposing the complex underbelly of Malaysia itself, Preeta Samarasan’s debut is a mesmerizing and vital achievement sure to earn her a place alongside Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, and Zadie Smith....

Title : Evening Is the Whole Day
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780618874477
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 340 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Evening Is the Whole Day Reviews

  • Lowell Brower
    2019-02-03 10:09

    I'm going to go ahead and call this my favorite novel of the decade. I've never, ever, EVER, believed in characters as deeply as I believe in the inhabitants of The Big House. You know what - forget the decade! This is as good a novel as I know of, and as intimate and moving a reading experience as I've had, and as rich and vivid a world as I’ve ever read my way into. I don't know if I've ever loved a character as much as I love Aasha. Love though, is not all I feel for this book – and this, I think, is what makes it so seriously, truly, utterly great: it's also unrelentingly painful. It will hurt you. It hurts, even when guided by a loving hand, to look so honestly at the brutality and smallness and meanness of which humanity is capable. It hurts to follow the trails of ruin left by willful blindnesses, shameful prejudices, and faithless underestimations; it hurts to watch small mistakes, no matter how innocently or ignorantly perpetrated, result in huge, enveloping, unrescindable sadnesses – but to be able to look at all of this squarely, attentively, and unsparingly; to depict it fully, in all its ugly complexity; to dwell on the pain, to pick and prod and examine it, to stare into its hideous face with humor and healthy cynicism, but also, somehow, hope – is, I think, the bravest sort of thing a piece of writing can do. I smiled on nearly every page, but never did the novel allow me to indulge the dangerous fantasies of a happy ending – not for everyone, not in a world like ours. oh yeah - and did I mention that it's got absolutely everything else that anyone could possibly want in a novel - mystery, political strife, domestic intrigue, hilarity, a thrilling loop-the-looping structure, and 339 pages of pure, unadulterated kick-ass-dazzling prose.In sum:I friend this book, know or not?

  • Zanna
    2019-02-07 04:35

    4.5 starsThe second law of thermodynamics is only true on average, only true on the immense statistical scale of beings made of billions of atoms. Life seems to violate it all the time via, for instance, the miracle by which plants release oxygen or the wherewithal of those (women, mostly) who wash dishes, rake leaves, stack dried and folded towels neatly back in the cupboard. Of course, you get tired doing it, so the law is really intact. If time flows in the direction of spill and shatter, it flows in the direction of fatigue with equal certainty.Preeta Samarasan has chosen to tell this story against the gradient, from spill and shatter and exhaustion back to hope and harmony and wholeness. The result is totally devastating, which shows me something about my relationship with time; I can tolerate the knowledge of past trauma better than of sad and certain prophecy; I am capable of living for the future. My culture is like this; our concept of history is a line leading somewhere. Thus we can tell those traumatised in their lives or histories to 'get over it' to 'move on', because the 'arrow' of time points, out of whatever devastation (we shrug off our responsibilities with weasel words and crocodile tears), towards glory. So I applaud this novel and its author for challenging me to think against my grain.At the beginning-end it seemed I'd fallen in with a dismal crowd of unpleasant, selfish people with hardly any attractive qualities. As the past unfolds though, the narrative tenderly takes the part of each one of them, revealing the reasons behind every unkind cast of speech and thought, affording each soul the tragic sympathy Shakespeare gives Macbeth (though not his wife). By the time I reached the end-beginning, I'd forgiven all the characters I'd hated, and come to love those I'd liked from the start all the more.The backdrop of Malaysia is evoked in its natural lushness and stained with multiple undercurrants of racial tension. The uprisings after the election are an appropriately jarring intrusion into the otherwise lazily unspooling narrative, but the conditions that produce these events are painted and played out in the daily drama of the street and even the household. Samarasan deals with race and class relations delicately through the framing of romantic relationships, personal grooming, religious practices and beliefs, and food in all its aspects. Aasha's friend, the half-white ghost, bears witness to a destructive colonial legacy. Her view from the pond is only one of this deceptively simple tale's many submarine shadowy silk spun depths.My favourite character is the sane, empathic witness Uncle Ballroom, who tells us "Attention is a perfectly valid thing to seek". Words of wisdom!

  • Kinga
    2019-01-26 04:29

    Just when some thought it was impossible to please me...along comes this book. This deserves 5 stars without any doubt. It baffles me why the world hypes barely mediocre books like 'The Kite Runner' or 'Lovely Bones' when gems like this one go almost unnoticed. There is not a single thing that is wrong with this book. In fact, it is a textbook example of how one should write a novel. Reviving the true art of storytelling, it manages to be gripping, enthralling, and captivating. The novel reveals itself slowly as if we were peeling an onion, uncovering one thin layer after another. It is amazing how real all the characters are. They are never black or white, but are perfectly three-dimensional with all the gradations of grey. Each has their share of good and bad in them. They all make mistakes and hurt each other deeply but I couldn't bring myself to wholeheartedly hate any of them because in the end they were oh so very human. It might be a depressing potrait of the institution of family but there is no exaggeration in it. There is no excess drama that 'happens in books and soap operas only'. It is a wonderful piece of prose. It is lush without being overwritten, rich but still delicate and light. Call me old-school but I still believe writers should truly master the language, have a vast vocabulary, use synonyms, create metaphors that would strike you with their originality and appropriacy, and just take you on a journey. And Preeta Samarasan does just that which is why I am going to be a fan forever and ever.

  • Zak
    2019-02-23 02:07

    This is a fascinating tale which takes place in the 'Big House' of an idealistic hot shot lawyer. The setting is in Malaysia, at about the time she gained independence from the British in 1957. The story has many layers, which unfolds in a non-chronological manner. There are many questions begging to be answered, like what made a doting elder sister suddenly turn cold and indifferent to her 4-year old sibling? What 'crime' did the servant girl, Chellam, commit to cause her to be dismissed under a cloud of shame and disgrace? What did the previously beloved wayward 'Uncle Ballroom' do to cause him to no longer be welcome in the Big House? What caused the previously close relationship between a father and daughter to disintegrate into a situation where they can no longer look each other in the eye?More importantly, who is Preeta Samarasan and why have I never heard of this writer before? The over-arcing theme of this book is 'change'... change in individuals, familial relationships, fortunes and ideals. Mistakes are made, hopes are dashed and one watches these changes like an inevitable, slowly unfurling train wreck. Against the backdrop of the disintegration of this family is the disintegration of the founding ideals of the nation itself. The initial hopes of an independent new state comprising disparate ethnic groups, working hand-in-hand towards a bright, promising future, only to let brooding suspicions, envy, jealousy, greed and avarice of the political classes creep in and slowly wreak their insidious effects, culminating in the race riots of 1969 which tore the young nation apart, never to be the same again. For as much as the author unveils the family's sad story in tantalising prose, filled here and there with dark humour, stinging observations and colloquialisms, one gets the idea that she is really writing about the tragic stillbirth of an entire nation. Final rating: 4.5* (minus half a star as some of the colloquial dialogue comes across a bit stilted).N.B. If you have not read and decide to pick up this book, you might find things a bit confusing sometimes, due to its non-chronological structure. My advice is not to worry about it, you didn't miss anything, just read on. All the 'missing' parts will be filled in in due course. Also, colloquial and native terms are used liberally throughout the book. If you need help understanding the meaning or context of certain words or sentences, feel free to message me. I would be glad to help in any way I can.

  • britta
    2019-02-23 08:29

    Holy cow. I have NEVER, EVER had a reading experience like this one. Rich and sad and confusing and rewarding. I need a thousand more stars to even get close to how I feel about this book. From the first sentence (oh, that gorgeous sentence!) I knew it was going to be one of those books that would change my life. And it did. I was hurt and in love and sad for and just bowled over by the characters in this book, wanted to curl up with Aasha behind the PVC settee and and watch and wonder and talk to the ghost daughter. I want to drink Milo and swing on that swing next to Uma, see what she sees. It's a miracle of point-of-view, that I could get to know all of the characters so well as I did and from one author. This book feels like a million books in one, absolutely the best thing I've my life.

  • Alan
    2019-02-18 04:24

    good but slow, more later..OK,catching up. Trying to.. this book is a wonderfully calibrated family saga, encompassing such delights as Uncle Ballroom (he’s good at dancing), ghosts, gossips, postcolonial Malaysia, servants badly treated, adultery, snobbery, race riots, and food - Chinese, Malaysian, Indian (I really wanted to tatse those curry puffs). It has a focus on bodily functions: shit, piss and snot drip from its pages. It's quite useful Appa (the house's patriarch) has no sense of smell or he might never have married Amma. They have three children, Aasha who converses with ghosts, the jokey brother (name?) and Uma, the scholar, who as a young girl entertained company by declaiming Tennyson and Shakespeare, [and] followed this with her fourteen times table, and rounded off her performance with an up-to-date listing of African capitals in alphabetical order.People are portrayed in fully rounded terms, the servant Chellam, for example, although she is beaten by her father, all her money taken from her and is snubbed by the family, is no saint herself, given to pinching the thigh of her charge, the old woman of the house. She entertains the children with her film star posters and physical attributes like the white threads of grease that spiralled out of her pores like butter icing from a hundred tiny pastry bags when she squeezed the skin of her nose.It's beautifully written with precise and lovely descriptions of butterflies, flowers, houses and skies. The relationships are complex and engaging, it's funny, and thought provoking. It interweaves history and poltics into the narrative but not with a heavy hand, the writing stays light and breezy even when dealing with, for example, the race divides between the Indians, the Malays and the Chinese. So it sounds close to perfect and it is. But as I said sometimes it gets a bit slow. It goes back and forth in time, and often this gives a fresh angle on something we know about: usually this is good, a further revelation that might make us change our minds about a character or situation, but occasionally, just occasionally, I thought OK, can we move on now (eg when the matriarch dies) and instead found the narrative going backwards again. But don't let that put you off, this is a fab book.

  • Jen
    2019-02-15 10:09

    After reading rave reviews of this novel, I was just sure it was going to be fantastic.I didn't even make it past the second chapter.The language is beautiful, but it's written in a style that makes it difficult to understand at times. A lot of Malaysian dialect is used, which means the dialogue can be choppy when the characters are speaking. The style itself reminds me a lot of Faulkner with that same stream of consciousness flow. As I've never been a fan of Faulkner, it's not surprising that this didn't appeal to me.I really believe there's a great story here. But you have to dig to find it. It's the kind of book your high school English teacher assigns you to read, and day-to-day life is stressful enough without reading about someone else's troubles. Immediately, the book struck me as dark and brooding. Maybe I just wasn't in the mood for this particular book. Overall, the concept is certainly interesting. It follows a Malaysian family as one daughter moves to New York City and a servant is sent away for a "crime" we know nothing about. The smallest child is six and sees ghosts. However, I found the book slow to start and even slower to read. I rarely put a book down once I start it, but this one just wasn't happening for me.I'm filing this on my "never read again" shelf.

  • Jean
    2019-02-05 03:36

    The pain, the pain, the pain in this book. Some of it is brought about due to cultural traditions. A great deal occurs because of personality traits that won't allow the characters to move beyond forgiveness. although one must admit that most of the issues are those that would hamper anyone from easily forgiving. Thus, it appears to be pain that will go on forever. With all of that said, I think that the biggest culprit it the silence among the family members. Samarasan, does an excellent job of portraying the story's plot in a "That's the way it is" presentation. She writes so well that despite the exertion and misery that is necessary to complete it, you go on to the finish line, so to speak. I will definitely keep an eye out for her work.

  • Manu
    2019-02-13 06:11

    Preeta Samarasan's debut novel begins with the kind of prose that actually seems like poetry in disguise - with a description of a part of Malaysian geography. The narrative begins in 1980, on Kingfisher Lane in Ipoh, in the Big House, owned by the Rajasekharans - Raju (Appa) a leading lawyer and a pillar of the community, erstwhile socialist, Vasanthi, his wife, from circumstances far below his, their children Uma, Suresh and Aasha in that order, Paati, the matriarch whose disapproval of her daughter-in-law endures time, the servant girl Chellam brought in to take care of her. A wealthy, dysfunctional family, with each member fighting their own demons.We see a lot of the story through Aasha's eyes in the beginning. Aasha, who talks to ghosts and will do anything to get back the affections of Uma. Uma, whose sole desire is to escape to the US. And in between, Suresh, who tries to make sense of the world with humour. The narrative then sets out to unravel layer by layer, not just digging deeper into what happened earlier, but also wider, giving the reader, through characters and events, a view of Malayan society, with its own undercurrents, ethnicity issues and rules that attempt harmony between the Chinese, Indians and the natives. A brief glimpse of a country coming to terms with its freedom, and the responsibilities therein. As the layers unfold, the perceptions of characters and their behaviour that the reader has built up slowly begin to undergo changes, as the past - from a few days earlier to half a lifetime away - shows its influence on the present and future. We also see how the relationships between people change with time, sometimes over years and sometimes in a few minutes. There are some very interesting secondary characters too, like Uncle Ballroom who evokes a sense of poignancy, Vasanthi's mother whose sudden turn to asceticism makes you wonder about the nature of the human psyche, or Kooky Rooky, whose variations of her own past points us to stories that we build for ourselves. And then there's Chellam, whose past, and lack of future brings a lump to the throat. Somewhere in the book and its use of words and the wit employed (brotheROARsister, Stopping At Nothing...) I could see Arundhati Roy. Somewhere in the way the human condition is expressed I could see Kiran Desai. But neither takes away from a distinctive style - vivid prose, edgy humour, and an ability to draw the reader right in. This one goes into my favourites.

  • Andrew
    2019-02-06 02:21

    This book grew on me. At first I found the amount of detail overwhelming, and thought the pace was too slow. Gradually, though, I got used to the style. By the end, I thought it was one of the best books I’ve read in quite a long time.It’s an interesting book in that it illuminates the politics of post-colonial Malaysia and the tensions of race and class, and yet the action takes place almost entirely inside a single house. It’s called the Big House, and the family living in it is wealthy but absolutely dysfunctional. It’s dysfunctional, though, in subtle ways – this is not a book of beatings and rapes and other traumatic events. It’s a book about slower, more corrosive forms of abuse: secrets, lies, pretence, bitterness, the absence of affection or, perhaps worse, its sudden withdrawal.Not a huge amount happens in the book, and what does happen is described in minute detail from the perspectives of each different member of the family. Although this tried my patience early on, the effect towards the end of the book was astonishing. I felt as if I knew every character inside-out, and understood their motivation for being the way they were. Although the members of the family do some pretty horrible things to each other, we come to understand exactly why, and so nobody is portrayed as a villain.Not too many characters are sympathetic either. For me (although I suspect this will be different for different readers), the servant girl Chellam and the occasional visitor called Uncle Ballroom are the ones I sympathised with most. As relative outsiders to the family, they were at first welcomed as providing an alternative to the bitterness and hatred within it, but then resented for speaking the truth in an environment where fragile lies are what life in the Big House is built on.The novel spans decades of post-colonial Malaysian history, mostly from the 1960s up to about 1980, but outside events are touched on only briefly. This suggested a child’s view of the world to me, where the Big House is the centre of the world and outside events are an occasional interruption. Although the narrator is omniscient and gives the perspectives of all the characters at various stages, the claustrophobic focus on the house above all else made me see the novel more through the eyes of the children in the family, particularly the youngest Aasha (who, incidentally, reminded me a lot of Briony in Ian McEwan’s Atonement). Certainly the father, a lawyer and one-time aspirant to political office, spends most of his time outside the house, and yet we rarely see what he sees. There’s a short passage where he is with his mistress in her home, but mostly he is only ever seen where the children see him, sitting at the dinner table inside the Big House. Whatever the reason for this relentless focus on the house, it does succeed in creating a world with known parameters, a world in which the reader at the end feels as if they know and understand everything within that world.Strangely, the political side of the book is effective too. Although I’m sure it’s not meant as such a crude allegory, the lies within the family do seem to parallel the lies within the country. The multi-ethnic cardboard cutout figures welcoming people to Malaysia in the airport scene at the end are wonderful symbols of a country in which truth can never be told for fear of unearthing painful memories, the same problem that imprisons the family. Nothing is said overtly in the novel about race and class, and yet the brief mentions of race riots and killings are enough to set the scene, and the treatment of Chellam is central to the dishonesty of the family.I would highly recommend this book. Usually I prefer a more spare, ‘minimalist’ writing style (e.g. Cormac McCarthy’s The Road). This is the other end of the spectrum from that – very ornate, effusive, highly descriptive – and yet I am very glad I persevered. I think the characters in this book are among the most fully realised I’ve come across, highly nuanced and utterly believable. This is Samarasan’s debut novel, and I will definitely be reading whatever she comes up with next.

  • K
    2019-02-05 09:07

    I thought this book was fabulous.The story begins at the end and basically works backward with a little back-and-forth within that structure, a device which would have been irritating and ineffective in the hands of a less gifted author but worked beautifully here. As a result of the structure, events which seem minor at first gradually take on a breathtaking symbolism and significance as you begin to discover their roots, and the story becomes deeper and deeper as you keep reading. The language is beautiful -- for once I found myself (mostly) thinking, "lyrical" and "poetic" rather than overwritten. The continually shifting viewpoints, something I usually dislike, actually served to make all of the characters three-dimensional and real.At the beginning of this story of the unhappy Rajasekharan family, an Indian family living in Malaysia, we learn of three disappearances -- the dismissal of Chellam, a mysteriously accused servant, the departure of Uma, the oldest daughter in the family, for America, and the death of Paati, the children's grandmother. As we move back in time, we learn about the original mismatch of the two Rajasekharan parents, Amma and Appa, and their growing divide; Amma's ascent from her poor family of origin into the life of a rich socialite desperately trying to mask her unhappiness, constantly carped at by Paati, her superior live-in mother-in-law, and disconnected from her three children; Paati's increasing irascibility with old age leading to the family's hiring Chellam in the first place and then to Paati's mysterious death; Uma's increasing detachment from her family even before her escape to America; and eventually, the pivotal events two years prior to the end of the story which brought the family's unhappiness to the surface and served as a catalyst for everything that followed. Much of the story is told through the eyes of Aasha, the youngest child, who attempts to palliate her loneliness through richly imagined communication with "ghosts" (another device I usually dislike, but one which worked here because it seemed less about magic realism and more about an exploration of the inner life of a six-year-old) and who is tragically an important agent in the story as well as the one most deeply affected by the events.Naturally, I have a few gripes. The story was a bit of a slow starter for me; I became captivated around Chapter 4 but was more ambivalent until then. Looking back, I don't know whether it could have been otherwise given the structure, as you don't really understand what's happening until you keep moving backward. My bigger gripe is with the incest/non-incest part of the plot -- I AM SICK AND TIRED OF DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY STORIES WHICH INEVITABLY CONTAIN AN ELEMENT OF INCEST/MOLESTATION! AAARRGGHH! There are dysfunctional families without incest! And they can be interesting too! It's become a cliche already. The only reason I didn't remove a star for that (and I was sorely tempted) is that, looking back, that's probably the only kind of event that could have facilitated everything that followed. I also had an issue with the ambiguity of the incest; if it wasn't actually incest but something like incest (which is what the book seems to imply), then why were the results so dramatic? But I forgave that, because the book as a whole was so damn beautiful and well-done. I should add as a disclaimer that my sister and some other goodreads reviewers didn't like this book, but it certainly has my vote.

  • Suzanne
    2019-02-03 04:15

    I chose this novel as my “Malaysia” book in the 52 Books Around the World Challenge. The author, Preeta Samarasan, was born and raised in Malaysia, but came to America in her teens and never looked back.The story is about a dysfunctional Indian family and through their faulty relationships, we learn about the various cultures of Malaysia, the disparity of wealth, and the country’s own caste system. I appreciated learning a little about this country, but I honestly did not enjoy the book. In the first one hundred pages or so, Samarasan tries to flex her MFA degree and here’s an example of what we get:“One day might be a drop wetter or a mite drier than the last, but almost all are hot, damp, bright, bursting with lazy tropical life, conducive to endless tea breaks and mad, jostling, honking rushes through town to get home before the violent downpour. These are the most familiar rains, the violent silver ropes that flood the playing fields and force office workers to wade bus stops in shoes that fill like buckets. Blustering and melodramatic, the afternoon rains…”Okay, I just had to stop there, but really the author should have stopped sooner. One, maybe two sentences at most could have sufficed about the rains. And yet this is nothing compared to the pages of inner thought we are subjected to about Uma making an omelet for her younger siblings.The middle third of the book drops the overly wordy language and gets on the with the story, which isn’t all that interesting yet. The end the book, without so much as a coup de grace, at least grabbed my attention. There was only one character I could have liked – Ballroom Uncle, who is belittled by practically everyone in the family, but is actually the only truly decent person in the book. Unfortunately, the author didn’t draw me in enough to really care about anyone. 2 1/2 stars.

  • Faith
    2019-01-25 06:06

    This novel, which is told non-chronologically, assumes that the reader's interest will be captured because a grandmother has died by a means unstated, a servant has been sent away, and a young woman is leaving Malaysia for the US. I did not care. I knew nothing about these characters at the outset and still knew very little by page 100 or so, when I abandoned ship. In some other novels I have found that a non-chronological story line is an attempt to cover for weak plotting ability, but of course I can't say for sure about this one since I didn't finish.To comprehend Chapter 2 we are required to know the immediate post-colonial history of Malaysia. I'm willing to look up foreign words, but I'm not willing to do historical research just to get started in a novel.The commercial review distributed here on GR favorably compares Samarasan with the Indian writer Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, and the Jamaican-British writer Zadie Smith. I don't know Kiran Desai's work, but Roy and Smith have nothing in common, style-wise, and Samarasan is something else again. Don't be swayed by a sentence that lumps brown female authors together like so much cookie dough.

  • eb
    2019-01-28 10:13

    This writer is going to be a big, huge deal. She seems to have invented a new kind of prose, mooshing together magical realism (barf, but in her hands non-vomitous) and Tolstoy. I wanted to steal my galley and write notes all over its margins.

  • Rebecca
    2019-02-04 05:24

    This book is a difficult three stars, because I feel very rewarded by the book but even more disappointed by the larger story.What I love about this book: the writing. The descriptions, the language, the way the author uses smell and sound, and some of her naked moments, telling us the audience directly that the story does not coming to a black telescopic end, like so many cartoons. Instead that telescope expands to a whole scene, a whole reality. I believed her, and I followed her. The vignettes were astonishingly good: going to the airport, the birth of Suresh, the courtship of Amma and Appa, the moment Uma withdraws from everyone and her reasons for doing so from Paati and Aasha.I think this book attempts too much. The character development is uneven. Paati is highly episodic, even as a ghost; Amma is painfully one-dimensional; Suresh is like a dim memory of a brother; and we never learn the significance or even reality of Aasha's ghost relationships.Some of the clinchers that we are supposed to be hungering for are so trite, so reproduced and uncreative, so predictable. When Aasha lies about Paati's death, it is a clear parallel to Atonement. When Uma goes from warm to cold, and her arctic attitude lasts two years (?), we all know why well before we get there in the story. My favorite part is when we see Uma explain why Aasha is dangerous, why an adulating motherless girl is willing to do too much. Anyone who finds Aasha adorable and sympathetic is utterly missing the point.

  • Liam Wright
    2019-02-13 07:12

    Occasionally you come across a novel that so accurately captures the human condition that it is impossible not to identify with some tiny fragment of personality or emotion. This novel wove together both the story of a servant girl wrongfully accused and that of her employers lives, trials and tribulations, both internally and on the surface. few books that I have read have portrayed such a raw and deeply flawed cast of individuals, I found it difficult to openly dislike any of them because each had such depth and true emotion to them. Evening Is The Whole Day does not paint the image of a happy family institution, This family hurt; they hurt each other, sometimes deliberately and often without shame, but it is through this that we witness the inner turmoil of each, it is this fact that so deeply saddened me and allowed to connect with each.The colourful social dynamic of Malaysia and its melting pot of cultures was another aspect that reared its (sometimes ugly) head throughout this novel, particularly the treatment of servants but also the amalgamation of languages and struggle for identity, something which each character had to do battle with in their own way, be it the role of husband, sister or elder...not just servant.To try and capture the essence of each character in a single review would do this book no justice, its one of those books that you simply have to pick up to understand. I really would like to read more of this relatively unknown authors work as her combination of vivid prose and unrestricted plot are not easily found these days.

  • Andrea
    2019-02-15 06:29

    This book is actually set in Malaysia, but the main characters are an Indian family. The story involves the death of an elderly woman in the family, and the subsequent dismissal of a servant girl who is held responsible. Through the eyes of the six year old protagonist, Aasha, and occasionally other characters, the book swoops backward and forward through time to show the subtle and complicated threads that tie together families in love, loyalty, hatred and deceit. While the book particularly illuminates aspects of its particular setting in time and place, the complications of a postcolonial world, it also examines the complicated division of loyalties within families, particularly immigrant families who feel a special insularity.

  • Whirl Girl
    2019-02-10 09:25

    I loved the writing style in this book. It was engaging, descriptive, and really transported me to another place and time. Peppered with Malaysian (and Tamil-Malaysian) slang and references, it offered a lyrical compliment to the more straight-forward nonfiction book that I read about Borneo this month. I also loved the character development. By the end of the book, the nuances and personalities of each of the main characters shone through, providing an explanation of their motivations. What I didn't love was that all of the characters were so miserable in their lives. It was hard to keep picking up the book and finding more terrible things happening to them and more haunting acts perpetrated by them, though the story was beautifully and compellingly written.

  • MAP
    2019-01-25 08:19

    I tried. I really really tried. But the ILL due date came up, and I was still only half way through. It wasn't that I didn't want to know what had happened to each of the characters, it was just that...I didn't actually want to have to read the book to find out.I'm interested that so many people connected so deeply with the characters, because I found each one of them to be completely unappealing or just plain unlikeable. If I'd had more time with this book, rather than being on a rather strict time limit because of ILL, maybe I would have gotten through it and really enjoyed it. But by page 135, I was still slogging along every inch of the way.I might try it again someday.

  • Charlotte
    2019-02-21 07:33

    Oh, I just loved it so so much. All through the last 50 pages I kept thinking, how is this possibly going to end? And then of course it ended in the most perfect, heartbreaking way. If there is such a thing as a romp without the romping, this is it. Also, it is one of the only novels I've ever read to make me feel very very hungry one minutes and then very very not hungry the next. Most only do one or the other. The word bittersweet isn't bitter enough or sweet enough. And ghosts! Is it any surprise that Aasha was (and remains) my favorite?

  • Lisa
    2019-02-19 05:29

    Evening is the Whole Day" is mostly set in 1980s Malayasia. A family unravels through the eyes of the youngest daughter who hides and spies in the shadows. Although the dense, lavish prose and the over-stuffed sentences sometimes felt overpowering, I kept turning the pages, wanting to find out what happens.

  • Gabriela
    2019-02-11 09:28

    great book. really well written. the characters have dimensions! I didn't feel forced to identify or sympathize with anyone in particular. this is really one of the best books I've ever read.

  • Jayne Catherine pinkett
    2019-01-23 08:13

    This is the choice for May from Mel's Bookland Adventures around the world reading choice

  • Madeline
    2019-02-06 02:17

    Comparisons to Rushdie are embarrassing, but Preeta Samarasan has a great deal of Rushdie in the twisty chiaroscuro style of her prose. Like Rushdie, she seems contemptuous of her characters, or anyway she seems incapable of knowing them and loving them at the same time. I'm not certain how she feels about Malaysia, but the desire to escape (rather than reform) makes the satire difficult to handle - I mean, really, do we need to Rushdies at once? What is the good in having simultaneous Nabokovs or Swifts?As clever and skillful as the novel is, it was terribly hard to sustain my interest in it. I'm glad I read it, because Samarasan is a great stylist and an insightful writer, and it informed me a little about Malaysia, and it's probably a book I would recommend because it is actually quite remarkable. I just didn't like it (except for Aasha, who is the only consistently interesting character in the book).

  • Mary
    2019-02-17 03:17

    This book is a work of art, but there is nothing easy about it! Preeta Samarasan has captured the human condition and makes the reader look into him or herself on every page. It is not always pretty and it evokes much discomfort, but it cannot be easily dismissed. The richness of the characters came barreling into my reality and has no intention of going away very soon! Thank you Preeta!

  • Sanjay
    2019-02-07 06:33

    Lush evocation of the activities of a dysfunctional Indian-Malaysian family over the decades -- very well-written indeed, but a bit over-ripe and, ultimately, spinning off into too many directions. Notable for its lyricism and the quality of its sentences, however.

  • Licinia
    2019-02-02 08:36

    Uma escrita que me transportou ao passado quando descobri Gabriel García Marquéz e Isabel Allende. Uma história rica em descrições que nos transmite as cores, os cheiros e os paladares da Malásia e nos envolve na casa da família Rajasekharan com os seus segredos, enganos, desilusões e ilusões.

  • Catie
    2019-02-02 04:33

    Recommendation on Kate Howe's BookTube Channel - 5/1/2017

  • Paul
    2019-02-08 06:14

    A bitter, bitter-sweet book, this drew me in slowlyslowly, and engulfed me, leaving a sad taste in me that I’m not sure I’ll shake in a while.At first I wasn’t sure, the story had possibilities, it was set somewhere I quite fancy travelling to, but while the dialogue seemed direct off the monsoon swept streets of Ipoh, the prose didn’t quite flow, it felt like Samarasan was trying too hard. Instead of flowing onto the page it was as if each sentence had to be creative, couldn’t sit on it’s own merit. Of course it could be me, and there were times when it worked. I continued on though, and was immensely rewarded, with a story that made me more emotional than any book has done in a while.Where Samarasan has excelled is with the story’s construction, jumping back and forth in time, allowing glimpses into all the characters heads at various times, while never really leaving any doubt who the main characters are. Uncle Ballroom, one of the lesser featured but still significant characters is portrayed as a sponging vagabond by the family, yet when he appears, even through their relations with him, as well as the odd glimpse into his own head, a much better, deeper person is revealed, at odds with the family’s portrayal, and this for me is one of the books strengths.The main characters are the family of Appa, an idealist, rebellious to his overbearing mother, who couldn’t reconcile what he thought he wanted with what he actually wanted, and when he does, it strains him to breaking point. Amma, his vacuous wife, drags herself up by her own sheer will and hatred of her mother in law to occupy a station in life she dreamed of but was little prepared for.Out of the three children this ill matched couple bring into the world, it was Aasha who stole my heart, whose tarnished innocence is almost perfectly painted by Smarasan. While Uma withdraws from the games being played by her family that she has no interest in, and Suresh is the most boyish boy I have come across in a book, Aasha strives to recapture a happy family that never existed, and especially trying to understand and overcome Uma’s withdrawal from her and the family. Her relationship with Uma, with it’s unknown confidences and battles is the one of the most poignant I have ever read. Chapter 8 in particular is touching, the tension builds throughout the chapter and it is not the death which left me sad, it is Aasha’s failed attempt at reconnecting with her sister.Upstairs, Uma hums “Mrs Robinson” and “The Boxer” and “The Sound of Silence” and goes on with her packing as if nothing happened, as if Aasha still doesn’t exist. Perhaps there’s no atoning for old sins after all. Perhaps it was already too late.There are a few nods to the turmoil in Asia at the time, and the tensions between the Malays, Indians and Straits Chinese, as well as an oddball assortment of neighbours to the big house, but these merely enriched the story woven by Samarasan, allowing us to glimpse the main characters in a slightly different light each time.Evening is the whole day made me think of A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry, but whilst the latter jarred me at the end into releasing the sadness it had sown in me, Evening is the Whole Day filled me with sadness like a slowly filling bath, as Aasha tried to understand more and fix more, without realising she understood less and couldn’t fix anything, and Samarasan’s tale will stay long in the mind after the last page is turned.(blog reviewhere)

  • feux d'artifice
    2019-02-19 05:30

    This is a book that’s seriously hard to love. When I say this, I don’t mean that this is a horribly written book or anything. In fact, I think the writing is lovely, if sometimes a little overwrought. No, what makes this book hard to read is the fact that none of the characters are likeable. The very premise itself is about how people fail each other, and this process is very painful to watch. No one in this story comes off with their hands untainted. I think I could have came to terms with this theme if there was some form of redemption at the end, but Samarasan offers us none. It’s a bleak premise told and contained in luscious prose, like the relation of the Big House (lovely, brightly coloured) to its inhabitants (broken, spiteful, misunderstandings, failure.) Now, I can come to love a book even with awful, mean characters when they are shown in a larger-than-life quality (I like Wuthering Heights for a reason. >D) but here, while the cast do cruel things, they don’t do it because they are particularly vicious and messed up people. They do it almost as if it’s all ordinary and normal, resigned to their fate. And that’s far worse, actions taken and accepted without hope or subversion. The storyline of Chellam the servant and Uncle Balu was the hardest for me to swallow, personally. Hence, I took months to finish reading this novel. Sometimes I think I would have enjoyed this novel more if Samarasan challenged the wrongs and failures of the family and society more, but then again, that wasn’t what Samarasan was trying to illustrate in her work.Despite all this, I do think the reading experience was worthwhile. Just the writing is really something to behold, how Samarasan perfects the art of out-of-sequence storytelling, jumping seamlessly through time and point-of-views and still tells a coherent and brilliant story, one secret, one bit of failure, revealing one by one with steady pace and rhythm. The ghosts that the youngest child sees was also tastefully done. (This novel kind of has this bizarre fairy tale-esque quality to it, sans the redemption and happy endings, when I look back at it. I think it's the imagery thing and the language Samarasan uses that evokes this impression in my mind, lol.) And I enjoyed this as the first novel I read that takes place in Malaysia and feels real rather than just window dressing. I’d recommend it to anyone who wants to read a novel with beautiful prose and is set in an Asian locale without going down the “exotic” route, and doesn’t mind unresolved tension at the end. (When I say unresolved tension, I mean that the failures are never redeemed, not that the various plotlines are left unresolved.) Just, don’t go in expecting everyone to end up happy. ^^;Original Post here