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.
Deftly switching points of view, and flitting backward and forward in time, Samarasan constructs a narrative that opens outward even as it deepens, revealing the wounds and secrets within each character…even if the seams don't match perfectly, Samarasan's fabric is gorgeous. Her ambitious spiraling plot, her richly embroidered prose, her sense of place, and her psychological acuity are stunning. Readers, responding to the setting, will immediately compare her to Kiran Desai. I think Samarasan's dialogue and description are reminiscent of Eudora Welty, another woman who knew how to write about family and race and class and secrets and heat.