Cover image for The far field : a novel
Title:
The far field : a novel
Title:
The far field : a novel
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.

First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition.
Publisher Info:
New York, NY : Grove Press, an imprint of Grove Atlantic, [2019]
Physical Description:
432 pages ; 24 cm
Abstract:
"In the wake of her mother's death, Kalyani, 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, Kalyani 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, Kalyani finds herself forced to make a series of choices that could hold dangerous repercussions for the very people she has come to love."-- provided by publisher.

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Summary

Summary

" The Far Field is remarkable, a novel at once politically timely and morally timeless. Madhuri Vijay traces the fault lines of history, love, and obligation running through a fractured family and country. Few novels generate enough power to transform their characters, fewer still their readers. The Far Field does both."--Anthony Marra, author of The Tzar of Love and Techno

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.


Author Notes

Madhuri Vijay was born in Bangalore. The Far Field is her first book.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

Vijay's remarkable debut novel is an engrossing narrative of individual angst played out against political turmoil in India's Jammu and Kashmir state in the late 2000s. Unmoored by her mother's death, 24-year-old Shalini apathetically floats from job to job while receiving financial support from her affluent father. In an effort to find closure, Shalini leaves her native Bangalore to search for Bashir Ahmed, her mother's only friend, who she hasn't seen in years. Upon arriving in tumultuous Jammu, Shalini is taken in by a Muslim family in Kishtwar and struggles to understand the fractured nature of her surroundings: the role of the omnipresent Indian Army, the disappearances of local Muslims, and the frequent violence against and perpetrated by both Muslims and Hindus. Her search eventually leads to a Himalayan village, whose generous inhabitants temporarily give her a sense of purpose amidst staggering natural beauty. However, Shalini's ignorance and inability to be honest with herself and others results in dangerous consequences for everyone she comes in contact with. Interspersed with flashbacks of Shalini's relationships with her dazzling yet mentally ill mother, the mysterious but kind Bashir Ahmed, and her withdrawn father, Shalini's misguided attempts at love, fulfillment, and friendship are poignant. Vijay's stunning debut novel expertly intertwines the personal and political to pick apart the history of Jammu and Kashmir. Agent: Claudia Ballard, William Morris (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Living back home in Bangalore after attending university, Shalini is adrift since her mother's recent death. When her father encourages her to come up with some sort of plan, she surprises even herself with a ready response: in fact, she's planning a trip to Kashmir. Secretly, she hopes to find a friend of her mother's whom she hasn't seen in years, a traveling salesman named Bashir Ahmed who stopped visiting when the political unrest in his region took too great a toll on him and his family. On her travels north, Shalini is struck repeatedly by how ill-prepared she was for such a journey, and by how little she wants it to end. Alternating chapters address Shalini's time in Kashmir, where she is introduced to others' astonishing struggles and welcomed into their care in a way she's never before experienced; and flash back to her childhood, unraveling the mysteries of her sharp-edged, dearly beloved mother and the man Shalini has crossed a country to find. Vijay intertwines her story's threads with dazzling skill. Dense, layered, impossible to pin or put down, her first novel is an engrossing tale of love and grief, politics and morality. Combining up-close character studies with finely plotted drama, this is a triumphant, transporting debut.--Annie Bostrom Copyright 2018 Booklist


Library Journal Review

DEBUT Set in Bangalore, India, Pushcart Prize winner Vijay's birthplace, this novel follows a young woman in search of herself. After losing her job, 30-year-old Shalini leaves her comfortable life and treks far north to Kishtwar to locate a salesman named Bashir Ahmed, whom she recalls from her childhood. There she learns the extent of the mysterious relationship between Ahmed and her mother and develops an unexpected relationship with Ahmed's son Riyaz and his family. Shalini immerses herself in the simplicities of life, even learning to milk a cow, and also becomes an English tutor to the daughter of a key village member. But in this remote region she also comes to understand firsthand the hard, dangerous truths of class struggles, politics, and gender in her country. VERDICT 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. [See Prepub Alert, 7/9/18.]-Shirley Quan, Orange Cty. P.L., Santa Ana, CA © Copyright 2019. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

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 naïve. And let it stand alongside this: eight 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 1980, 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: prime ministers assassinated, peasant-guerillas waging desperate war in emerald jungles, fields cracking under the iron heel of a drought, nuclear bombs cratering the wide desert floor, lethal gases blasting from pipes and into ten thousand lungs, mobs crashing against mobs and always coming away bloody. Consider this: even now, at this very moment, there are people huddled in a room somewhere, waiting to die. This is what I have told myself for the last eight years, each time I have had the urge to speak. It will make no difference in the end. Excerpted from The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.