The Far Field (Hardcover)
I fell instantly under the spell of The Far Field. Reading in the first couple of pages of regrets expressed for things that had happened six years before, seeing a sleeping mother, a mysterious visitor, I wanted to know more. I wondered with the child, Shalini, what could be behind the lethal tongue of her quick-witted, unbridled mother or the visits of the man from Kashmir who appeared from time to time, telling them stories as they sat on the couch during the day when the father was at work. My curiosity snagged and my empathy stirred, I made my willing way with Shalini, now grown, as she traveled to Kashmir on an improbable search for the man from her childhood and for answers to that original mystery of who her mother was. Following Shalini from childhood into adulthood, from Bangalore to a small mountain village in Kashmir that opened her eyes and her heart, I found myself transformed—not just by the bewitching language and the irresistible pull of the story but also by the humanity and cleareyed compassion of the teller. A compassion that allows reader and teller alike to recognize truth and then to forgive—oneself as well as others. This isn’t just a good book but a passionate, farseeing and utterly brilliant novel.— From Betsy Burton
January 2019 Indie Next List
“Few seasoned novelists — let alone a first-time novelist like Madhuri Vijay — are able to construct scene after scene with compelling interior drama, tension, and forward momentum, but you’ll never want to stop reading as Vijay skillfully combines a personal journey and family mystery with a political examination of the Kashmiri-Indian troubles. Shalini, the narrator of this extraordinary work, has a mother who immediately belongs on any shortlist of literature’s great characters. If I read a better novel in 2019, then 2019 will become my favorite year of the 21st century.”
— Brian Lampkin, Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC
"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.