“She could be vicious, and yet there were times, especially in a crowd, when she was pure energy, drawing the world to herself.”
Genre: Domestic Fiction
Published: 15th January, 2019
Rate: 4 stars
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.
The Far Field is a book that I saw few reviews of, but all were amazing and that, plus the beautiful cover had me interested. I wanted to read it so bad and I am so glad it didn’t disappoint.
The Far Field is a brilliant depiction of the carelessness of youth. The book, right from the synopsis to the first page is captivating. Madhuri Vijay writes really well and beautifully. The story follows two narratives with flash backs in between carefully interwoven to tell this one story. The Far Field has very vivid descriptions I felt like I was there with the characters and feeling what they were too.
The Far Field is set against the back drop of the Kashmir politics. It takes us through a torn country and how differently the people are affected with a perfect balance of showing and telling the relationship between the different groups of people. The realities of war is something that is prominent in the book and it was heavy reading some parts.
“He had the intelligent man’s faith in the weight of his own ideas, and the emotional man’s impatience with anyone who did not share them.”
I love a book that has a great sense of place and The Far Field is that and more. When I count characters, I count Banglore and a mountain village in Kashmir. These two settings are vividly described and play quite a huge role in the book making it poignant and atmospheric. I also loved the main character. She is flawed and makes the worsts of decision and makes the book even more interesting. Her choices affects the people in the book in one way or another and it is quite something reading her perspective. The relationships between the characters is also something to note; familial, platonic and romantic.
The Far Field is a stunning debut book, a coming of age story that is both provocative and evocative. I do, do recommend.
Have you read The Far Field? What did you think about it?