One of our recommended books for 2019 is The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay

THE FAR FIELD


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.

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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.

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  • Grove Atlantic
  • Hardcover
  • January 2019
  • 448 Pages
  • 978-0-8021-2840-9

Buy the Book

$27.00

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About Madhuri Vijay

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

Praise

An Indies Introduce Pick
A Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection

“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.” —Madeline Day, Paris 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.”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

“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

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

Excerpt

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.