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A fictional version of the author serves as the narrator of Berlinski's uneven first novel, a thriller set in Thailand. Mischa Berlinski, a reporter who's moved to northern Thailand to be with his schoolteacher girlfriend, Rachel, hears from his friend Josh about the suicide of Martiya van der Leun, an American anthropologist, in a Thai jail, where she was serving 50 years for murder. As Mischa begins to investigate Martiya's life and supposed crimes, he becomes increasingly obsessed with the woman. The complications that arise have the potential to be riveting, but the chatty narrative voice takes too many irrelevant detours to build much suspense. Still, Berlinski, who has been a journalist in Thailand, vividly portrays the exotic setting and brings depth and nuance to his depictions of the Thais. Buried within the excess verbiage is a lean, interesting tale about, among many other things, the differences between modern and tribal cultures. (Mar.)
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Mischa Berlinski originally intended to write an account of the real-life Lisu tribe of Thailand, but held scant interest in the project until he decided to fictionalize the natives and turned his research into a novel. In this readable and clever debut, told almost entirely in backstory, Berlinski explores the problems inherent in trying to assume the perspective of another person or culture and the enduring conflict between faith and science. While he treats each perspective with genuine empathy, he refuses to take sides. Critics had a couple of complaintsa lagging secondary plot and a few descriptions with a textbook feelbut dismissed them as minor. They unanimously praised Berlinskis wit, style, and intelligence in this atmospheric "novel that never fails to fascinate" (Minneapolis Star Tribune).
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Fascinating book delving into the lives of missionaries in Chiang Mai. A little less successful and more of a fantasy when it enters into tribal lives.Published 1 month ago by literophile
This is one of the great novels of the 20th century. I highly recommend it.Published 3 months ago by Marty Charnak
Quite good but not great. Still an interesting and enjoyable read. I was pleasantly surprised that the Missionaries weren't the evil ogres - that's a kind of hackneyed plot... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Judith
This is a stunning, absorbing novel. It is a triumph in all departments of writing. The prose is beautiful, crystalline and evocative. The story is utterly enticing. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Michael Lieber
I have read this book and while I admit that I read it to the end and turned the pages to find out what happened, I have a number of reservations. Read morePublished 5 months ago by J. Hoskins
This is an exciting novel, solving the mysteries in it slowly while keeping the reader's attention focused at all times. Read morePublished 6 months ago by DH
A great story and read for those who love novels with an anthropological bentPublished 8 months ago by William Van Tol
This was just too long with way too much detail about a fictional group of people - all the detail didn't end up having anything to do with the murder either. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Mountain Girl