The reviews for Preeta's Evening is the Whole Day have started to appear. Salil Tripathi writes a very nice piece in The Independent called - ahem - Malaysia's new place in the literary sun
Samarasan represents the quiet emergence of new Malaysian writing in books such as Rani Manicka's The Rice Mother and Touching Earth, Tash Aw's The Harmony Silk Factory, and Tan Twan Eng's Booker-longlisted The Gift of Rain last year. These writers have significantly broadened our understanding of the region earlier seen largely through the gin-soaked, misty eyes of Somerset Maugham, the Tiger-beer induced nostalgia of Anthony Burgess*, or the laconic fiction of Paul Theroux.He discusses the socio-political background of the novel :
Malaysia permeates Samarasan's novel without didacticism about the country's identity politics. It shows the symbiotic and separate relationship between Malays, Chinese and Indians. Jo Kukathas, the gifted satirist, once joked that in Malaysia "the Chinese do the work, the Malays take the credit, the Indians get the blame". Buried within the quip is a stark divide, explaining the consequences of the May 1969 riots which formed the basis of Lloyd Fernando's 1993 novel, Green is the Colour. ... Those riots led to Malaysia's preferential policies, which benefited Malays over Chinese and Indians, so forcing many non-Malays to seek educational and employment opportunities abroad.and calls the story multi-layered, but feels that the plot gets rather complicated.
Francesca Segal in The Observer yesterday found the novel :
Vibrant, descriptive, and peppered with colourful Indian-Malaysian dialogue, this is an epic that's informative without being worthy, and engrossing but not frivolous.
You can find other reviews on Preeta's website.
I'm feeling more than a little frustrated at the moment because I'm longing, nay dying, to talk about what I think of the book, but since I have reviewed it for next month's Off the Edge, am not going to go there yet. Except to say that I told Preeta that I think she wrote the novel especially for me! I was so hungry for this kind of fiction about my adopted country.
I will, though, be posting up extracts from an
The novel is in the bookshops now (I saw trade paperback copies in MPH the other day for RM59.90) and there are bound to be discounts and rebates to factor in here and there to bring the price down further.
Shirley from MPH reminds me to say that Preeta will be here to do bookshop appearances in October ... and hurray, she will be at Seksan's again too!
Good news! MPH Bookstores will be giving out cut-out coupon 25% for Preeta's book in StarMag in June Reads Monthly, coming out on 29 June, valid till 13 July.*I think this statement shows a misunderstanding of The Malayan Trilogy though ...