Evening Is the Whole Day
1 journaler for this copy...
This is a hauntingly beautiful novel. Simultaneously filled with hope and despair, Ms Samarasan gives us characters who are never just stereotypes (although sometimes the accurate depiction of certain characteristics comes dangerously close to a stereotypical presentation). No, what Ms Samarasan has delivered is a novel peopled with individuals who are generally disappointed in the past and present and occasionally hopeful for the future.
The story finishes in Malaysia in 1980, but circles through the family history, aspirations, hopes disappointments and secrets of the Rajasekharan family since Appa's grandfather emigrated across the Bay of Bengal in 1899. We view the present through the eyes of Aasha, the youngest of the three Rajasekharan children. Aasha is secretive and far from impartial: she doesn't want her older sister Uma to leave Malaysia for the USA and is reacting to tensions and other secrets within the family that, at 6 years of age, she can observe without necessarily understanding. By contrast with the relative life of privilege of the Rajasekharan family, is the sad tale of Chellam: the exploited, underprivileged and wronged servant girl who is the same age as Uma.
This novel is primarily about family: secrets, relationships and aspirations. But it is also about life in Malaysia over a century which encompassed independence, race riots and significant migration. Each of the Rajasekharans struggles to find his or her own happiness in a world which is changing rapidly.
This was an extremely difficult read for me. Mentally, physically and emotionally. It hurts. A lot. It makes you smile. and laugh. and cry.
And it is very, very confusing. The author switches the time and the point to many times and wanted to catch and throttle her to make her stop. That's probably the way the family felt about Paati in the ende ...
It took me at least 10 attempts to finish the book. But it was really, really worth it.
Counts for Malaysia.