Evening Is the Whole Day
By Preeta Samarasan
(Mariner Books, Paperback, 9780547237893, 352pp.)
Publication Date: May 2009
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
When the Rajasekharan 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 Aasha’s 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 Uma’s departure, 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. 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.
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.
1. The Big House is introduced before any of the human characters, almost as though a character itself. How does the Big House bear witness to changes in the family, to the history of the land, and to changing politics? Describe how it also witness power struggles between rich and poor, British, Indian, Chinese and Malaysian, the traditional and the new.