Evening is the Whole Day by Preeta Samarasan

Evening is the Whole Day

Preeta Samarasan

Secrets and lies are gradually revealed in this portrayal of a well-heeled Indian family living in Malaysia. The satisfyingly complex narrative flashes back and forward through three generations to keep you guessing until the end. Although this is a sad story, it's narrated in prose as rich and spicy as a really good curry with a good side serving of humour, the dialogue being a particular joy.

Extract

‘Really,’ Mrs Surgeon Daisy Jeganathan says, ‘you don’t know how lucky you are, Vasanthi. Your Uma, without opening her books also can get straight As. Our children no need to dream of Columbia University also. By now Uma must be packing already, isn’t it?’
Amma’s mouth is full. She chews and looks round the room, but none can decipher her expression.
‘Make sure she takes lots of warm clothes,’ Mrs. Rangaswamy says. ‘Even in September New York is like Antarctica already.’
‘And better you fill up her suitcase with cream crackers and Maggi mee and that type of thing,’ says Mrs. Chua, ‘and one or two cases of Brand’s Essence of Chicken. She’s going into premed, isn’t it? Where she’ll have time to cook? Brand’s Essence of Chicken is very good, just open and drink and you get all your nutrition.’
‘Pre-med, yah, that’s right!’ Mrs. Bhardwaj says. ‘I almost forgot, man! It’s like a fairy tale only. Premed in America, Ivy League some more – where our children can –‘
‘Actually,’ says Amma, setting her plate down on her pressed-together knees, ‘my great daughter thinks she wants to be an actress.’
The Ladies twitter. Mrs Surgeon Daisy Jeganathan throws her head back and grants this joke her late-night, bridge-party laugh, the laugh she generally saves for the tall tales of her husband’s tipsy friends.

Parallels
  • The Malayan Trilogy by Anthony Burgess
  • The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai

Books with similar mood

The Cry of the Sloth

Sam Savage

The Brilliant & Forever

Kevin MacNeil

The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

Claire North

The Somnambulist

Jonathan Barnes

The Ministry of Special Cases

Nathan Englander

Welcome to Braggsville

T Geronimo Johnson

Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

David Eagleman

It's The Stars Will Be Our Lamps

Alan Walsh

Cain

Luke Kennard

Life Knocks

Craig Stone

Good Offices

Evelio Rosero

Censoring an Iranian Love Story

Shahriar Mandanipour

Birds Without Wings

Louis De Bernieres

One More for the Road

Ray Bradbury

An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England

Brock Clarke

The Life and Opinions of Maf the Dog and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe

Andrew O'Hagan

The Gypsy Goddess

Meena Kandasamy

Gods Without Men

Hari Kunzru

The Empress and the Cake

Linda Stift

Yellow Blue Tibia

Adam Roberts

Shriek

Jeff VanderMeer

The Electric Michelangelo

Sarah Hall

Babylon

Victor Pelevin

Mr Chartwell

Rebecca Hunt

Frankenstein in Baghdad

Ahmed Saadawi

Zone One

Colson Whitehead

Vertigo

Ahmed Mourad

Little Hands Clapping

Dan Rhodes

We the Animals

Justin Torres

God's Own Country

Ross Raisin

The Ladies of Grace Adieu

Susanna Clarke

Poppy Shakespeare

Clare Allan

Wizard of the Crow

Ngugi wa Thiong'o

Loop of Jade

Sarah Howe

Thirsty River

Rodaan Al Galidi

The Door

Magda Szabo

The Inheritance of Loss

Kiran Desai

Lighthousekeeping

Jeanette Winterson

The Man With the Compound Eyes

Wu Ming-Yi

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

David Mitchell

Gargling with Tar

Jachym Topol

Kick the Animal Out

Veronique Ovalde

26A

Diana Evans

The Ends of Our Tethers: 13 Sorry Stories

Alasdair Gray

Stories of Your Life and Others

Ted Chiang

Behindlings

Nicola Barker

2084: The End of the World

Boualem Sansal

Tenth of December

George Saunders

The Humorist

Russell Kane