Summary and book reviews of The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

The Far Field

by Madhuri Vijay

The Far Field by Madhuri  Vijay X
The Far Field by Madhuri  Vijay
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  • Published:
    Jan 2019, 448 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Karen Lewis
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About this Book

Book Summary

Gorgeously tactile and sweeping in historical and socio-political scope, Pushcart Prize-winner Madhuri Vijay's The Far Field follows a complicated flaneuse across the Indian subcontinent as she reckons with her past, her desires, and the tumultuous present.

In the wake of her mother's death, Shalini, a privileged and restless young woman from Bangalore, sets out for a remote Himalayan village in the troubled northern region of Kashmir. Certain that the loss of her mother is somehow connected to the decade-old disappearance of Bashir Ahmed, a charming Kashmiri salesman who frequented her childhood home, she is determined to confront him. But upon her arrival, Shalini is brought face to face with Kashmir's politics, as well as the tangled history of the local family that takes her in. And when life in the village turns volatile and old hatreds threaten to erupt into violence, Shalini finds herself forced to make a series of choices that could hold dangerous repercussions for the very people she has come to love.

With rare acumen and evocative prose, in The Far Field Madhuri Vijay masterfully examines Indian politics, class prejudice, and sexuality through the lens of an outsider, offering a profound meditation on grief, guilt, and the limits of compassion. 

Excerpt
The Far Field

I am thirty years old and that is nothing.

I know what this sounds like, and I hesitate to begin with something so obvious, but let me say it anyway, at the risk of sounding naive. And let it stand alongside this: six years ago, a man I knew vanished from his home in the mountains. He vanished in part because of me, because of certain things I said, but also things I did not have, until now, the courage to say. So, you see, there is nothing to be gained by pretending to a wisdom I do not possess. What I am, what I was, and what I have done' - all of these will become clear soon enough.

This country, already ancient when I was born in 1982, has changed every instant I've been alive. Titanic events have ripped it apart year after year, each time rearranging it along slightly different seams and I have been touched by none of it: prime ministers assassinated, peasant-guerrillas waging war in emerald jungles, fields cracking under the iron heel of a drought, ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

The Far Field portrays the heroic quest of a flawed and enduring heroine seeking her purpose in a difficult world, and bears witness to complicated political injustices and territorial disputes in contemporary Jammu and Kashmir.   (Reviewed by Karen Lewis).

Media Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
A striking debut, stronger on the micro than the macro.

Library Journal
Narrating Shalini's journey in chapters that alternate between past and present and utilizing strong characterizations throughout, Vijay has crafted an engaging, suspenseful, and impressive debut

Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Remarkable...an engrossing narrative... Vijay's stunning debut novel expertly intertwines the personal and political to pick apart the history of Jammu and Kashmir.

Booklist
Starred Review. Vijay intertwines her story's threads with dazzling skill. Dense, layered, impossible to pin - or put - down...this is a triumphant, transporting debut.

Author Blurb Ben Fountain, author of Beautiful Country Burn Again
Madhuri Vijay astonishes with her wisdom, her fearlessness, her sure handling of a desperately loaded narrative that's equal parts love story, war story, and family intrigue. Such is the power of Vijay's writing that I finished the book feeling like I'd lived it. Only the very best novels are experienced...and this is one of those rare and brilliant novels.

Author Blurb Anna Noyes, author of Goodnight, Beautiful Women
I am in awe of Madhuri Vijay. With poised and measured grace, The Far Field tells a story as immediate and urgent as life beyond the page. I will think of these characters – tender and complex, mysterious and flawed, remarkably real to me – for years to come, as though I have lived alongside them.

Author Blurb Elliot Ackerman, author of Waiting for Eden
Utterly immersive and vividly realized, The Far Field is that rare gem of a novel which effortlessly transports the reader into distant, unfamiliar terrain through the force of a story deeply anchored in the humanity of its characters. Madhuri Vijay's debut marks the arrival of an astonishing new talent.

Author Blurb Anthony Marra, author of The Tzar of Love and Techno
The Far Field is remarkable, a novel at once politically timely and morally timeless....Few novels generate enough power to transform their characters, fewer still their readers. The Far Field does both.

Author Blurb Paul Yoon, author of The Mountain
Stunning in its artistry, in its engagement with the world and the personal, this is a profound and monumental achievement composed with rage, vulnerability, humor, grief, and mystery. How dangerous this novel is, in the very best of ways, and how grateful I am for this writer and for her creation.

Author Blurb Sonia Faleiro, author of Beautiful Thing
A strikingly unusual book full of beauty and surprise.

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