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Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. All pages and cover are intact (including the dust cover, if applicable). Spine may show signs of wear. Pages may include limited notes and highlighting. May include "From the library of" labels.
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Fieldwork: A Novel Paperback – January 22, 2008

4.1 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

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.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Bookmarks Magazine

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 complaints—a lagging secondary plot and a few descriptions with a textbook feel—but dismissed them as minor. They unanimously praised Berlinski’s 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.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 356 pages
  • Publisher: Picador; Reprint edition (January 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312427468
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312427467
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Well-researched and excellently paced novel. I was fascinated by the level of detail and found the non-judgmental tone of the author refreshing. The novel ended up being an anthropological study of 3 separate tribes--the fictional Dyalo (who appear to be based on the Lisu tribe the novelist studied extensively--look on [...]), American Protestant missionaries, and the curious tribe that lives in figurative ivory towers who spend their lives studying other tribes. The author seems to suggest that the universal tragedy that serves as the basis for the murder mystery aspect of the novel is the result not merely a simplistic clash between East and West, but one that can happen to any peoples who do not share the same world view or to anyone in any culture subject to common human emotions.

Terrific read, and highly recommended. I look forward to Mr. Berlinksi's future literary output--maybe something set in Italy, or perhaps involving Haitian voodoo cults?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ten stars. Best book I have read in ages. The author's prose style is impeccable and transparent, and he tells an interesting story in a manner fair to all the overlapping and colliding worlds he describes (missionaries, anthropologists, hill tribes, Thais, and his own generation's Western wanderers in the East). This is worth a million grad school MFA seminar meanderings. Terrific reading; hope he writes another book soon and many, many more in the future.
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Format: Hardcover
I decided to read this book after reading Steven King's review of it in the Entertainment Weekly magazine. I found that the beautiful thing about this book is that everyone who read it has opinion about it. It does not matter if it us the title of the book, the characters in the book, or the attempt to figure out which genre the book can be slated for. It is wonderful that all readers find Mischa Berlinski to be talented and smart young writer with a lot of potential. I have truly enjoyed this book because it speaks on many levels at once: beauty of Asia, complexity of people and cultures they are part of, religious conflict(s), tragedy of human existance no matter how hard we all try to understand it and conform to it in order to fit in the society we are part of. I strongly recommend this book -- it is a wonderful read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The most striking aspect of this début novel by Mischa Berlinski - the author, not the narrator - is how deftly he seduces you into conflating the two whilst reading the work. Surely, you say, this simply can't be mere fiction; it must, with all these paragraph-length footnotes, these all-too-real characters, be fictionalised non-fiction. No mere fabulist would go to the trouble, fill in all this backstory detail, these minutiae simply pretending to do, er, fieldwork on people who simply don't exist. Would he? It turns out that he would. Perhaps I do mean the narrator, not the author. It's ultimately this narrative voice which the author has created and its seeming authenticity that seduces us.

Wherein the seduction lies is difficult to relate in a review. Several reviewers have pointed to various aspects of the work that enthrall and hold the reader's interest: the clash of the missionary ethos and the scientific ethos, the overlapping of belief systems, the sympathetic and again, detailed backstories of all the characters. All of these aspects are almost overwhelmingly rich and strange yet even more exciting to the reader, because of the suspense.

But wait. What suspense? This novel isn't a murder mystery in the normal sense in which the term is employed. We are told who killed whom at the outset here. So what are all these readers, yours truly included, experiencing when they call this somewhat cagey book a page-turner? Prospective reader, we are experiencing the suspense of WHY. Why did Martiya van der Leun kill missionary David Walker? What was in him, in her that ultimately caused her to murder him in the mysterious reaches of Northern Thailand where the little-known Dyalo tribe abide?
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A lot of hard work and research went into this excellent work of historical fiction. It is fiction, as the author reminds us at the end of the book and yet, the characters are so excellently described and brilliant that you could swear that this is a biography. The main character is a dedicated, unselfish, female anthropologist doing work with a tribe of Chinese/Thais in Northern Thailand. We find out early on that she may be involved in a murder and the author painstakingly researches her life and work through interviews with her friends, boyfriends, teachers, the Thai people she is working with and finally, with a family of Christian missionaries who have been involved in missionary work in China since the 30's. The observations about differences in cultures and what it takes for an anthropologist to leave behind pre-conceived notions of God, sprirituality, morality and what makes the world tick, and then enter into a world so different and yet spiritual and religious in its own way, is the real eye opener of the book. The dedicated anthropologists who do this fieldwork have an experience vastly different and scary compared to say a chemist or physicist doing experiments in a lab somewhere here in the US.

We also get a good dose of what the Christian missionaries are trying to do and how their work can sometimes seem somewhat arrogant and un-needed. And yet, to some of the converts, leaving their old belief system and joining a much simpler belief system like "The Good News" of Christianity, can be liberating. But once our main character has virtually become a member of this Thai tribe and falls for one of the male members, she is devastated as some of them convert to Christianity.
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