The Far Field
WINNER OF THE 2019 JCB PRIZE FOR LITERATURE
SHORTLISTED FOR THE 2019 DSC PRIZE FOR SOUTH ASIAN LITERATURE
An elegant, epic debut novel that follows one young woman’s search for a lost figure from her childhood, a journey that takes her from Southern India to Kashmir and to the brink of a devastating political and personal reckoning.
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.
Cosmo’s one of the best books by BAME writers to get excited about in 2019
Longlisted for the 2019 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction
An impressive debut. -- Layla Haidrani * Cosmopolitan * 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 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 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... 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 Vivid...[THE FAR FIELD explores] complicated themes of parental fealty, identity, and religious schism...a striking debut. * Kirkus * 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* * ...deals with big questions - Indian politics, class, history and sexuality - through beautiful prose. * Huffington Post UK * Stunning....Vijay's remarkable debut novel is an engrossing narrative of individual angst played out against political turmoil. * Publishers Weekly * Consuming... Vijay's command of storytelling is so supple that it's easy to discount the stealth with which she constructs her tale. * New York Times Book Review * Vijay's descriptions of the mountains, the people and their everyday lives are beautiful, and that makes the hidden ugliness all the more disturbing; this is a seriously impressive debut. * The Times * Vijay probes grand themes - tribalism, despotism, betrayal, death, resurrection - in exquisite but unflowery prose, and with sincere sentiment but little sentimentality. * New Yorker * Shalini's quest to understand her mother's life makes for a remarkable story, and Vijay is likely to be a talent to watch. * Financial Times * 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. * Washington Post * The Far Field is an irresistible blend of moral subtlety and intellectual precision. Ingeniously conceived and elegantly written, it is a first novel of startling accomplishment. -- Pankaj Mishra a powerful meditation on the chaos of good intentions...a masterful piece of fiction. -- Nikesh Shukla * Observer * Vijay's mastery of traditional narrative skills wouldn't be out of place in a classic 19th century novel...The Far Field is an impressive performance. It will be fascinating to see what Vijay does next. * Sunday Times * A courageous, insightful and and affecting debut novel - and the winner of the prestigious JCB Prize for Indian literature - which places a naive upper-class woman from southern India in the midst of far messier realities in Kashmir. Along the way, the story challenges Indian taboos ranging from sex to politics. * The Economist Books of the Year *
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