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The Long Day Wanes: A Malayan Trilogy

4.06  ·  Rating Details  ·  527 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
Set in postwar Malaya at the time when people and governments alike are bemused and dazzled by the turmoil of independence, this three-part novel is rich in hilarious comedy and razor-sharp in observation. The protagonist of the work is Victor Crabbe, a teacher in a multiracial school in a squalid village, who moves upward in position as he and his wife maintain a steady d ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published February 17th 1993 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 1st 1964)
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Those measly two stars don't mean that I didn't enjoy reading this. I did, rather. It's just that I find that the novel undermines its own intent.

The novel's dislike of racism is apparent, and Burgess skewers it in all its forms: the colonisers' contempt for the colonised and vice versa, the various inter-ethnic hatreds among the Malayans, the overweening love of certain Malayans for their colonisers... This makes for much hilarity.

Burgess said of Malaya that it was “the most remarkable multi-
MJ Nicholls
May 04, 2013 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Burgess’s autobiographical trilogy is a vastly comic and brutally realistic work that wryly and unflinchingly depicts the “dog days of empire,” as the blurb puts it perfectly. Opening with Time for a Tiger, we are introduced to teacher Victor Crabbe, a philandering rascal and unlikely antihero skirmishing with the school principal over his unorthodox educational techniques and weaving in and out of the disastrous lives of other teachers and colonials—appearing relatively sane in comparison. The ...more
Jul 08, 2008 Preeta rated it it was amazing
I've avoided posting a review of this for a few days, because I'm having trouble distancing myself from the fact that it's about Malaya (the old name for most of Malaysia), a Malaya I know and love from my parents' stories, and that to my knowledge hasn't been written about this wisely anywhere else. It's not that this trilogy is perfect; like many of my favourite books, it's messy, rambling, and slightly random at times (the third book is probably the weakest of the three -- repetitive and veer ...more
Stephanie Augustin
How odd is it that a foreigner describes my country more wholly and better than any Malaysian writer I've read? It may boil down to my not having read enough local authors, but I think it is because racial prejudices and connotations still run so deep and is ingrained in the Federal Constitution that fear of censorship, backlash and prison now stop us Malaysians from writing about our not so beloved country as is.

Like Lim Cheng Po, many of us scorn our mother tongues and put on unfamiliar accen
Feb 17, 2016 Subashini rated it liked it
As other people have pointed out, it reenacts the racism and stereotypes it purports to skewer. The #orientalistgaze is one hell of thing to break free from, though, so I give him stars for trying his damndest and for a vibrant, almost loving depiction of Malayan society at a specific point in history. #lovingorientalistgaze
carl  theaker
Apr 11, 2010 carl theaker rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-fiction

Time for a Tiger

The history book 'Forgotten Armies' got me on the Southeast Asia theme and as Anthony Burgess'
Malayan Triology is mentioned as a mood setter for the post-war era, I continued with it.

Somewhat suspicious from books like 'Clockwork Orange' I was pleasantly surprised,
a great read, the - old couldn't put it down.

A great and hilarious set of characters in book1, particularly British
Nabby Adams the beer-alcoholic Police Lieutenant, huge in stature,
kindly in nature, honest in business,
Scott Cox
I found the "Malayan Trilogy" to be the most interesting, and perhaps least "troubling" of the three Anthony Burgess novels I have read thus far (the other two being "Clockwork Orange" and "The Wanting Seed"). The novel deals primarily with historic Malaysian struggles with Communism, but it also addresses Islam, a religion that Burgess seriously "courted" while he was teaching and writing in Southeast Asia (Burgess became fluent in the Malay language). Burgess was once asked about the allure of ...more
Read the first two stories of this trilogy that is also titled 'A Long Day Wanes'. They are reviewed separately as follows:

Time for a Tiger
Found the language a little too colloquial to be enjoyed as a smooth narrative. The characters weren't that interesting as well, a pity given that the setting of 1950s Malaya had so much potential for excitement and adventure given the communist insurgency was still rife. Instead I found the plot to be mundane, as seen through the eyes of an alcoholic English
Sep 20, 2007 Candace rated it it was amazing
This was one of the most influential books of my adult life.
It was with inital reluctance that I allowed myself to feel compassion for Nabby Adams, the protagonist (of sorts), but in no time I was completely sucked in and engaged in his world. This book is not only good fiction, it really appealed to the armchair traveler in me.
Sep 12, 2014 Ffiamma rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: uk, ebook
tre romanzi con un personaggio ricorrente- victor crabbe, prima insegnante e poi funzionario ministeriale- ambientati in una malesia umida e sensuale, sospesa tra colonialismo e indipendenza. quel che si ritrova è la sgradevolezza dei personaggi, tutti in preda a passioni disturbanti e il senso di torrida decadenza e immobilità tropicale- nelle tre storie disturbanti in cui sono impossibili lieto fine e redenzione. molto interessanti i passaggi sulla vita matrimoniale tra victor e fenella- in cu ...more
Darya Kirienko
Jul 26, 2012 Darya Kirienko rated it it was amazing
A must read for every expat in Malaysia. If the author lived today and wrote a blog, he could have used most of his observations for it.
Oct 31, 2014 Shea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ihave
I enjoyed reading the book. It was like listening to an elderly family member telling story of his youth.

However, it is not something that I can relate to. Today's Malaysia is somewhat different than the old Malaya and anyone looking to understand Malaysia would probably ended up with a set of misleading assumptions.

I've commented that I wasn't too sure if the author was being silly or deliberately insulting in naming the places and characters in his stories- no self-respecting Muslim would name
Apr 06, 2016 Alesh rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Per quanto mi riguarda, riassumere il contenuto di questo libro è impossibile. E’ composto da tre romanzi scritti da Burgess tra il 1955 e il 1957 (se non confondo le date) ispirandosi alla sua esperienza di funzionario del governo britannico in Malaysia, al tramonto del colonialismo inglese. Il filo conduttore dei tre libri è Victor Crabbe, un inglese giunto in Malaysia come insegnante e successivamente diventato funzionario del ministero dell’istruzione nel periodo di transizione tra il govern ...more
Nov 01, 2014 Cinzia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favourite
Per quanto mi riguarda, riassumere il contenuto di questo libro è impossibile. E’ composto da tre romanzi scritti da Burgess tra il 1955 e il 1957 (se non confondo le date) ispirandosi alla sua esperienza di funzionario del governo britannico in Malaysia, al tramonto del colonialismo inglese. Il filo conduttore dei tre libri è Victor Crabbe, un inglese giunto in Malaysia come insegnante e successivamente diventato funzionario del ministero dell’istruzione nel periodo di transizione tra il govern ...more
Babak Fakhamzadeh
Nov 12, 2013 Babak Fakhamzadeh rated it really liked it
Shelves: far-east
The three books, Time for a Tiger, The Enemy in the Blanket and Beds in the East, are set in the three years just prior to Malaysia's independence at the end of 1957. The recurring character is a schoolmaster called Victor Crabbe, though he's by no means the only central character in the three books, the setting and central characters changing from novel to novel.
Even now, some 50 years after the books were written as well as over 50 years after they are set, the types of individuals Burgess (h
Gareth Evans
This book was bought for me by a Malaysian customer when I was travelling on business. At dinner he noted that I was drinking Tiger beer (he was drinking whiskey) and mentioned that Burgess had written "Time for a Tiger" and this was the first of the Malayan Trilogy. A discussion of Burgess ensued (my only real knowledge of him was through A Clockwork Orange). The next day my new friend disappeared during dinner to a bookshop and presented me with a copy of the Malayan Trilogy - quite the best p ...more
Mindy McAdams
U.K. title: "The Malayan Trilogy"
U.S. title: "The Long Day Wanes"

Widely known as the author of A Clockwork Orange (the novel on which Stanley Kubrick's 1971 film was based), Burgess lived in peninsular Malaysia (then Malaya) from 1954 to 1960 while serving as an education officer for the British government. Britain was then preparing to withdraw from the country, which it had considered its colony since (roughly) 1874. (Malaya got its independence in 1957, and the new country of Malaysia emerged
Oct 03, 2008 Algernon rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is the UK paperback edition of Anthony Burgess's first three novels, a trilogy of short comic novels set in Malay at the time it was assuming independence and setting to the difficult project of self-determination. The trilogy later came to be titled The Long Day Wanes, in reference to the waning suzerainty of the British empire.

This edition is notable for its typographical errors, mostly instances of misplaced quotation marks.

The central character of the three novels is Victor Crabbe, a s
Apr 23, 2011 Lorraine rated it really liked it
Excellent stuff. Skilfully told -- the narrative weaves seamlessly in and out of the consciousness of different characters. A little Woolfsian, that: stream-of-consciousness. Irony can be sharp at times, but it's very approrpriate. Burgess is incredibly well-read and observant. There are tons of sneaky references to the classics and the modernist greats (not-so-subtle nods to Joyce) if one wants to pick them up -- it adds to the richness of the text -- but it reads very well without too. In that ...more
Evan Sandman
Jul 15, 2009 Evan Sandman rated it it was amazing
Saw it at Borders, and seeing how much I was enjoying Malaysia, I thought this book might be the perfect accompaniment. I was right and then some. These three short novels follow teacher-administrator Victor Crabbe through three separate jobs and locales in Malaysia (known then as Malaya) from 1955 through 1957, following the transition from British rule to Malaysian independence. Burgess gives a detailed and scathing view of people of all ethnicities in Malaysia, and expresses his hopes and fea ...more
Luke Johnson
Jul 16, 2010 Luke Johnson rated it liked it
A lighthearted and mostly entertaining look at the birth of independent Malaya (now Malaysia). The plot, such as it is, is driven by the amalgamation of races and ethnicities in the burgeoning state, as British colonists prepare to leave. But the books are much more about the characters -- who, we are assured in Burgess's intro, have counterparts in real life -- and how they react to their peculiar historical situation. And there are some memorable characters in here. It's also interesting to re ...more
Jun 07, 2012 Dennis rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those traveling to Malaysia
Recommended to Dennis by: Use book dealer
I have read this book intently. My goal is to understand some things about Malaysian culture and history, It is an adjunct to reading other non fiction material. It is written with the post colonial period of Malaysia in mind from the British perspective, of course. Although my copy of the book shows copyright 1964, the pieces of the trilogy are written between 1956-1959.

I enjoyed the characters, setting, language and plot. The plot feels a bit down as it depicts the decline of the British. It s
May 16, 2014 Matt rated it it was amazing
As an expat in Malaysia, these books are spot on in their commentary and characters. While really nailing the Malaysian experience, these books are about so much more underneath the surface: post colonialism, idealism and its inevitable decline, aging, dashed hopes and dreams, politics, the relationships between foreigners and ethnicities. The books really function all together, and not within their separate parts. Yes, they are not perfect — there is a lot of ebb and flow in the narration. But ...more
Reena Dixit
May 03, 2015 Reena Dixit rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
good book
Shawn Gordon
Nov 26, 2012 Shawn Gordon rated it liked it
These three books are okay, but not as good as I hoped. They started out strong, giving a real sense of life in Malaya/Malaysia as the long day of the British Empire waned, and former colonies became independent nations. However, the books lagged in the middle, and then became a chore to complete. If you are interested in this period of history, Burgess does give a good sense of life at the time. However, I cannot recommend these to a casual reader.
Jan 02, 2011 Jen rated it really liked it
I liked this story a lot. I found it a really interesting look at the waning days of the British empire. Especially in the ideas held by different people. Also I liked how it was a trilogy although I kind of looked at it more like a book that had three phases. I also liked that as readers we got to see the events from many different perspectives and not just the British. I would recommend this one to anyone who enjoys historical fiction.
Sep 28, 2009 Marni rated it liked it
A book club selection, I have read book one of this trilogy. Not sure if I am interested enough to read the last two. One thing I can say is that it is the first book in a long time to challenge my vocabulary. I did appreciate that. But I minded that the book was emotionally cold--many characters, but no one to hook onto as a someone that one really cares about.
Jared Zehm
Apr 05, 2013 Jared Zehm rated it it was amazing
Three shorter volumes rolled into one book ~ a friend and I initially bought it before our trip to Borneo and fell in love with it ~ as always Burgess lends a keen eye to his subject. This time it's post-colonial Malaysia. Wonderful cast of characters. Burgess is able to really sum up a time and place through intricate and beautiful stories ~
Book Bazaar
A fascinating discussion tonight at book club - the member who chose this one read it while travelling through Malaysia in the 1970s! A mix of responses from the book clubbers tonight - we loved the evocation of time and place, but some were bogged down with language and characters...
We gave 6/5/6/7/8/7/6/5/9/7.5
Jan 30, 2013 Lysergius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Set in Malaya during the insurgency, the Malayan Trilogy chronicles the absurdities, conflicts and confusions as seen through the eyes of Victor Crabbe, a well meaning but ineffectual school teacher. With a cast of thousands the 3 novels capture the essence of the death of the British Empire...
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Anthony Burgess was a British novelist, critic and composer. He was also a librettist, poet, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, travel writer, broadcaster, translator, linguist and educationalist. Born in Manchester, he lived for long periods in Southeast Asia, the USA and Mediterranean Europe as well as in England. His fiction includes the Malayan trilogy (The Long Day Wanes) on the dying days o ...more
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