Shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize 2020
‘An astonishing novel that is beautifully written but underpinned by a quiet simmering anger about injustice and unrealistic expectations of a family – and of life in contemporary India’ Peter Frankopan
‘A shattering study of disaffection and belonging … This is a concise novel of staggering depth …Disturbing, deep and utterly extraordinary’ Bidisha, Observer
An Irish Times Book of the Year 2019
Escaping her failing marriage, Grace has returned to Pondicherry to cremate her mother. Once there, she finds herself heir to an unexpected inheritance. First, there is the strange pink house, blue-shuttered, out on a spit of the wild beach, haunted by the rattle of fishermen in their catamarans. And then there is the sister she never knew she had: Lucia, who has spent her life in a residential facility.
Soon Grace sets up a new and precarious life in this lush, melancholy wilderness, with Lucia, the village housekeeper Mallika, the drily witty Auntie Kavitha and an ever-multiplying litter of puppies. Here in Paramankeni, with its vacant bus stops colonised by flying foxes, its temples and step-wells shielded by canopies of teak and tamarind, where every dusk the fishermen line the beach smoking and mending their nets, Grace feels that she has come to the very end of the world. But Grace’s attempts to play house prove first a struggle, then a strain, as she discovers the chaos, tenderness, fury and bewilderment of life with Lucia.
Luminous, funny, surprising and heartbreaking, Small Days and Nights is the story of a woman caught in a moment of transformation, and the sacrifices we make to forge lives that have meaning.