Escaping her failing marriage in the United States, Grace Marisola has returned to India to cremate her mother. Once there, she receives an unexpected inheritance—a property on the isolated beaches south of Madras—and discovers a sister she never knew she had: Lucia, who has Down Syndrome and has spent her life in a residential facility.
The effect is that the tide’s push and pull settle into a horizon, a plotline that’s both repetitive and linear. Small Days and Nights thrives on these pushes and pulls, allowing opposites to coexist ... Although Small Days and Nights succeeds in its first-person narrative...by the middle of the book Grace’s listlessness and confusion can become tiresome ... What work best are the book’s language and the evocation of South India ... most impressively, her focus never wavers ... Doshi keeps the pendulum swinging until the very last page.
Small Days and Nights starts off with a simple premise that becomes a shattering study of disaffection and belonging ... a concise novel of staggering depth ... there is incredible physical and emotional violence. In its vivid setting, the novel is not exactly a paean to modern India so much as a piercing Munchian howl of grief ... Each page of this novel bears testament to [Doshi's] skills as inequality, secrecy and unhappiness harden into menace. Through a cycle of visits, returns and memories, [Grace] must weather huge unease and bruising conflicts. Eventually, she finds strength and acceptance in this disturbing, deep and utterly extraordinary novel.
Doshi does not shy away from the more unpleasant features of the Indian everyday, detailing the poverty and savagery of life at the edge ... With whatever family structure she had loosely strung together now gone, Grace belatedly recognizes that the freedom from human connection which she sought was not actually what she wanted or needed ... Her final realization, that 'it’s not about living away from the world but living in it,' is a thought-provoking theory for those experiencing an existential crisis of their own.