- File Size: 1929 KB
- Print Length: 531 pages
- Publisher: Grove Press (January 15, 2019)
- Publication Date: January 15, 2019
- Sold by: Amazon.com Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07MBGQK78
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #39,670 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
|Digital List Price:||$27.00|
|Print List Price:||$17.00|
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Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
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.
--This text refers to the paperback edition.
AN INDIES INTRODUCE PICK, AN INDIENEXT SELECTION, A BARNES AND NOBLE DISCOVER GREAT NEW WRITERS SELECTION, AN AMAZON BEST BOOK OF THE MONTH, A PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BOOK OF THE WEEK
A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2019 FOR ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, REFINERY 29, BUSINESS INSIDER, BUSTLE
"Vijay probes grand themes--tribalism, despotism, betrayal, death, resurrection--in exquisite but unflowery prose, and with sincere sentiment but little sentimentality."--NEW YORKER
"Consuming... Vijay's command of storytelling is so supple that it's easy to discount the stealth with which she constructs her tale, shifting time frames with seamless ease and juggling a wealth of characters who cling to the heart. The show-stealer is Shalini's mercurial mother, an 'outrageous queen' of capricious gestures. Vijay smartly resists psychoanalyzing her, implying that the china-shop bulls in our families can be survived but never entirely explained away."--JAN STUART, NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW
"'All finite things reveal infinitude, ' wrote Theodore Roethke in 'The Far Field.' That poem, published in Roethke's final collection in 1964, concludes with the image of 'a ripple widening from a single stone / Winding around the waters of the world.' That's exactly the expanding effect of Madhuri Vijay's debut novel, which is also titled The Far Field....For the vast majority of us, who hear of the troubles in Kashmir only as a faint strain in the general din of world tragedies, The Far Field offers something essential: a chance to glimpse the lives of distant people captured in prose gorgeous enough to make them indelible -- and honest enough to make them real."--RON CHARLES, WASHINGTON POST
"Madhuri Vijay's supremely accomplished debut novel, "The Far Field," . . . . is an expansive and wonderfully immersive work . . . . Vijay gives us a brilliant outsider's view of an exotic, off-the-beaten-track realm and a compelling portrayal of a character gradually unraveling due to forces beyond her control. This is a stunning novel that skillfully grapples with the complexities of human relationships. Madhuri Vijay's career looks very bright indeed." -MALCOLM FORBES, MINNEAPOLIS STAR-TRIBUNE
"Ms. Vijay is an effortlessly assured prose writer. The book's length led me to expect something slow and atmospheric, but to my surprise I snapped it up in two sittings. . . . Ms. Vijay makes shrewd use of parallels and asymmetries in these mirrored narratives. Shalini intrudes on Bashir's son's household just as Bashir once disrupted hers. The counterpart to the wonderfully sharp-tongued figure of Shalini's mother is Bashir's impudent, fearless daughter-in-law, Amina, who steals every scene she's in.... "The Far Field" is illuminating about the persecutions in Kashmir, but at its heart it is about the ironclad laws of class by which all India is ruled."--SAM SACKS, WALL STREET JOURNAL
"In Madhuri Vijay's exquisite debut novel, grief propels a young woman to northern India, where she seeks answers about her mother's past. She meets people and communities constantly on the brink of political violence, upending her assumptions about herself and her country."―ELLE
"A story exploring the passage of time and the repercussions of one's actions sets out to ask the charged question of what it is that we spend our lives searching for."--VANITY FAIR
"A ghastly secret lies at the heart of Madhuri Vijay's stunning debut, The Far Field, and every chapter beckons us closer to discovering it....The Far Field chafes against the useless pity of outsiders and instead encourages a much more difficult solution: cross-cultural empathy. --PARIS REVIEW
"Loss can make a detective out of anyone, taking us on odd, winding, revelatory journeys toward resolving the pain of the finite. It can also, as Madhuri Vijay so thornily illustrates in her debut novel, The Far Field, blind us from all that's around us -- from our actions and their consequences. Grief, she argues, can be a fundamentally selfish pursuit.... a layered examination of pressing Indian political conflicts...Shalini's wounded narration -- her wistful, nostalgic anguish -- still pulses through most intensely, lending the novel the feel of a sorrowful family epic. Here is a singular story of mother and daughter -- a loving, broken bond so strong it touches, changes, and hurts countless lives beyond theirs."--DAVID CANFIELD, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
"Vijay provides that alchemical mix of political examination with personal journey that deepens all great novels. The Far Field plays out along the Indian/Kashmir border and follows a young woman's awakening into the dark realities of her family and her country. As an added bonus, her mother is one of the most memorable characters in contemporary literature. At times brutal, but always tuned to the desperately sweet longing for human connection, Vijay has created a necessary and lovely work that transcends 2018!"―SOUTHERN LIVING
"Exquisite ...Vijay does a superb job of showing how the personal and the political spark off one another to drive change in both. But when violence erupts in Kashmir, difficult choices must be made and sobering lessons learned about privilege, Indian history, class prejudice, violence, and sexuality."-- AMAZON
"Remarkable... engrossing...Vijay's stunning debut novel expertly intertwines the personal and political to pick apart the history of Jammu and Kashmir."--PUBLISHER'S WEEKLY (STARRED REVIEW)
"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."--BOOKLIST (STARRED REVIEW)
"Vivid...a striking debut."--KIRKUS REVIEWS
"Dazzling... Vijay's prose is exquisite--florid and descriptive at times, spare and pared back at others. The story keeps twisting unexpectedly until the end, keeping emotions fraught, questions percolating. It's a scintillating novel from a truly gifted writer."--BOOKPAGE (STARRED REVIEW)
"Remarkably vivid ...Vijay's descriptive powers and eloquent prose work brilliantly in awakening the reader to the majestic beauty of Kashmir and the severe hardships of villagers who make their home in its verdant landscape. Vijay's writing is socially astute, exploring taboos of mental illness, female sexuality and religious indifference. It is also politically relevant, a reminder that beautiful but war-torn Kashmir is still a disputed territory, fought over for decades by India and Pakistan.--SHAHINA PIYARALI, SHELF AWARENESS
"I had to remind myself while reading The Far Field that this is the work of a debut novelist, and not a mid-career book by a master writer at the height of her powers. 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, as opposed to merely read, and this is one of those rare and brilliant novels."--BEN FOUNTAIN, author of BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY BURN AGAIN
"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."--ANNA NOYES, author of GOODNIGHT, BEAUTIFUL WOMEN
"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."--ELLIOT ACKERMAN, author of WAITING FOR EDEN
"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
"This riveting and unique book faces the most troubling, insoluble questions with a bold, keen clarity that has no patience for anything less than the complete truth, even if that truth is disappointing or merciless or dark. The fierce undertow of Vijay's prose masterfully propels this story about loyalty, about how we create, sustain, and inevitably break our bonds with other people."--MERRITT TIERCE, author of LOVE ME BACK
"I loved this novel. Shalini is an utterly convincing narrator, particularly in her naïveté, which might very well serve as a metaphor for her country's refusal to see what it has wrought in Kashmir. Madhuri Vijay has written a brilliant and important book."--LIAQUAT AHAMED author of LORDS OF FINANCE
"What do we spend our lives searching for? What lasts and what pushes us forward? These are some of the questions Madhuri Vijay's THE FAR FIELD explores and navigates with a heart on fire. 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."--PAUL YOON, author of THE MOUNTAIN
"A strikingly unusual book full of beauty and surprise."--SONIA FALEIRO, author of BEAUTIFUL THING--This text refers to the hardcover edition.
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What kind of daughter feels such pity for her mother it turns into anger, such helplessness it turns into spite? And how does the discovery of a small wooden carving years later lead that daughter into troubled Kashmir looking for a man, a clothing salesman, who once came into her life, changed her mother’s trajectory and even into her father’s life? The narrative starts in Bangalore, and urban city, with all the delights and problems of city life. It moves. To Kashmir, a region of India on the border of Pakistan. Suddenly Shalini is in a remote, troubled village with all the attendant problems of being an outsider in a closed society she does not understand. This is a beautifully written story of love, betrayal and an earnest innocence that becomes a life changing experience at the expense of others. It’s a lesson, a heart-wrenching story of fear and cowardice. It’s a search for meaning in a life at once too comfortable and complex to understand unintended consequences until it is too late. But now the story is told and it, too, will change the reader.
[The Far Field] by
I have extremely mixed feelings about this book, and I see that many other readers share the same reaction. One the plus side are the beautiful, detailed descriptions of the Kashmiri landscape and the struggles of the people living there. On the downside: the ending, which left me frustrated, with no sense of closure, and not particularly liking the protagonist.
The novel begins with Shalini, a 20-something living with her widowed father in Bangalore, trying to figure out her life—especially her conflicted relationship with the mother who randomly doted on and ignored her. Despite this, Shalini always felt close to her mother, in large part due to a secret in which she was forced to share. When she was a child, a Kashmiri clothes salesman appeared at the door, and for some reason, her mother took a liking to him and invited him in for tea and conversation. Bashir Ahmed told magical stories that delighted both mother and daughter, and over the years, he would return many times between his visits to see his family in Kashmir. Although Shalini never understood why, her father was never told about Bashir’s visits—until the day he answered the salesman’s knock. A kind and generous man who was intrigued by a conversations about the ongoing war in Kashmir, he invites Bashir to stay in the family guest room. This decision ultimately leads to Bashir’s sudden, final disappearance.
Years later, after her mother’s death, Shalini becomes obsessed with a desire to find Bashir, but the only clue she has to his whereabouts is the name of a district—Kishtwar—mentioned in one of his stories. Her journey begins the larger, more active, and more interesting part of the novel. As she journeys deeper into the heart of Kashmir, the lives of its people, and even Bashir’s family, she learns more about the effects of the ongoing conflicts between the militants and the Indian army. Although it starts to feel like a coming of age story, unfortunately, at least for this reader, the anticipated moment of self-realization and change never quite comes, and I found her naiveté, thoughtlessness, and selfishness rather repellent.
Still, those descriptions of Kashmir and the struggles of its people are a saving grace, leading me to give this novel four stars.
Top international reviews
"There is nothing like been consumed by the blazing fire of untold story"..
This is a story about Kashmir.. the one most of us either are not aware of or we don't care about..
The story is about reminiscences of a girl in Bangalore when a salesman comes at her doorstep selling in some Kashmiri clothes.. How it impacts her life and how she embarks on a journey to Kashmir which takes the reader through the ground realities there - Hindus, Muslims, Kashmiri Pandits, Politics, Militancy, Terrorism, Army and not to forget the common man..
The story telling is immaculate and endearing...
A love story, war story, family saga weaved into a delicate emotional story....
One of the best books I have read this year..
Recommended read to all my friends..
However cannot say the same for her character development. Found a lot of unnecessary characters in the story and also even really strong characters like her mother were not developed with great clarity and sharpness. I think the main drawback in this was that even though there was great setting, a pacy story, deep thoughts...it lacked emotion. We knew what the mother said but how did she feel?
We knew how Shalini progressed in her quest but there was very little of her feelings woven into the story, just a lot of what she was thinking.
That is what detracted from the story and made it flat.
Great effort though for her debut novel.