When his girlfriend takes a job as a schoolteacher in northern Thailand, Mischa Berlinski goes along for the ride, working as little as possible for one of Thailands English-language newspapers. One evening a fellow expatriate tips him off to a story. A charismatic American anthropologist, Martiya van der Leun, has been found deada suicidein the Thai prison where she was serving a fifty-year sentence for murder.
Motivated first by simple curiosity, then by deeper and more mysterious feelings, Mischa searches relentlessly to discover the details of Martiyas crime. His search leads him to the origins of modern anthropologyand into the family history of Martiyas victim, a brilliant young missionary whose grandparents left Oklahoma to preach the Word in the 1920s and never went back. Finally, Mischas obsession takes him into the world of the Thai hill tribes, whose way of life becomes a battleground for two competing, and utterly American, ways of looking at the world.
Vivid, passionate, funny, deeply researched, and page-turningly plotted, Fieldwork is a novel about fascination and tabooscientific, religious, and sexual. It announces an assured and captivating new voice in American fiction.
GOOD GOD, NO
WHEN HE WAS A YEAR out of Brown, my friend Josh OConnor won a Thai beach vacation in a lottery in a bar. He spent two weeks on Ko Samui, decided that Thailand was home, and never left. That was at least ten years ago, and since then, Josh has done just about every sort of odd job a foreigner in Thailand can do: He taught English for a while, and was part owner of a nightclub in Phuket. He was a stringer for one of the wire agencies, and he took a few photos now and again for Agence France-Presse. Josh played the trumpet in the marching band in high school, and he parlayed the experience into a few years as the frontman for a Thai ska band called the Kings Men. He founded a dating agency. He worked for a time for an environmental group attempting to stop construction of a large dam across the Mekong, and when the effort failed, he wrote publicity materials for a cement exporter. He hinted that many years ago, in ...
Berlinsky's excellent first novel is notable on a number of counts, not only does it provide a wealth of highly readable information about the hilltribes that are spread across the area known as the "Golden Triangle", that overlaps the mountains of four countries (Burma/Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam and Thailand) but it also provides a study of two other cultural groups that are a mystery to most of us - missionaries and anthropologists!
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (948 words).
About Thailand (map)
A unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century. Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy. Thailand allied itself with Japan during WWII but has been an ally of the US since.
It is a land of many contrasts; endless beaches in the south attract tourists in droves. The capital city of Bangkok boasts state of the art transportation such as the elevated mass ...
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