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A Far Country

3.26 of 5 stars 3.26  ·  rating details  ·  565 ratings  ·  129 reviews
Raised in a remote village on the edge of a sugarcane plantation, fourteen-year-old Isabel was born with the gift and curse of 'seeing farther'. When drought and war grip the backlands, her brother Isaias joins a great exodus to a teeming city in the south. Soon Isabel must follow, forsaking the only home she's ever known, her sole consolation the thought of being with her...more
Hardcover, 272 pages
Published by Picador USA (first published 2007)
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I was disappointed in this novel from an obviously very accomplished writer. It read more like a year in the life of the protagonist, Isabel, with a series of incidents, rather than a story that builds towards a climax.

Isabel, a 14-year old girl, has a spiritual and symbiotic bond with her older brother Isaias, who has left their drought-ridden village to make it in the big city “down south” in this unnamed South American country that could be anything from Brazil to Peru to Argentina. Isabel fo...more
It took me two times to get all of the way through this book. It was not because it was badly done, or not an interesting story. Unfortunately, I am a moody reader, and the first time, I was just not in the mood to listen after I downloaded it and started listening, and it languished in my iPod until it expired and disappeared from my bookshelf back to library. Then I forgot about it.

The first time I downloaded it, I was drawn to the picture on the cover and the title of the book. That "somethin...more
A quiet but fierce novel. Set in Brazil (it's important to me to know WHERE I am as I read- I'm geographically-anal so I put together various clues- a severe drought in NE Brazil in the early 1980s, sugar cane industry, zebu cows, a great southern city, the Amazon. Then I read two 2002 interviews with Mason where he stated he was working on a novel set in Brazil...) Mason offer the mystical, mythology, a sense of fable- all swirling like feathery clouds through the stony reality of poverty, fami...more
Leroy Seat
This was a well written book in many ways, but I enjoyed the first half of it more than the second half, for the story didn't seem to progress much and the book just seem to stop rather than come to a satisfying end. I liked the descriptive writing, and I got a good impression of Isabelle, the central character, and the struggle she went through. But, still, I was disappointed that there was not more of a story.

I thought this was an interesting statement of Isabelle's thoughts: "She had never se...more
After having read Daniel Mason's first novel, The Piano Tuner, I eagerly anticipated the release of his second book. However, I was sadly disappointed in it. A Far Country is written with the same beautiful, fluid, lyrical prose that made The Piano Tuner so attractive to me, but in this novel, the language doesn't seem to serve as a vehicle for an engaging story - rather, it is the mask which hides the fact that there is not much of a story at all.

A Far Country is about a teenage girl named Isa...more
Excellent second outing - I've yet to read anything I wasn't completely engrossed by from this author. Written from the perspective of a young South American girl, Mason crafts a perspective that is believable, poignant, and riveting in carrying the reader through Isabel's odyssey of seeking her brother Isaias, who has left the destitution of their agricultural life for greater promise in the city.

Interestingly, one of the most consistent criticisms this novel received was that the location was...more
Alumine Andrew
I've been waiting for Mason to write another book after reading The Piano Tuner a few years ago. I was so pleased when I found his second novel.

It couldn't be further removed from his first work which was set in Burma. A Far Country is set in...a far country! We are not told specifically where it is but to me it feels like a country in South America, Brazil or maybe Peru.
It doesn't really matter because of the way Mason describes it and makes us feel like we've been there, that we recognise the...more
This is a book about contrast. Haves and have nots, wealthy and poor, hunger and feast, weak and strong, timid and bold, loud and quiet, innocent and lewd. The prose is astoundingly beautiful.

A Far Country is a story about Isabel, a 14-year-old girl who leaves the seclusion of her family's back-country village to work for her cousin in a large city. When drought leaves her family destitute, and no longer able to feed her, she leaves on a 4-day journey in the back of a truck for the city. Weak f...more
Ron Charles
Daniel Mason's evocative first novel, The Piano Tuner, published in 2002 when he was still a medical student at the University of California, told the story of a musician traveling into the Burmese jungle to find a mysterious military officer. His new novel, A Far Country, is another story of searching for someone in a distant place, but this time the exotic locale is never named, the theme is reduced to numbing clarity, and the characters are meant to represent millions of people in similar cir...more
June Ahern
My first time read of author Daniel Mason. A Far Country is a beautifully written story about Isabel, a young South American girl, and told in her perspective. The words are like the trickling of a river moving slowly down its path toward the pull of the ocean.

The images Mason creates are colorful and poignant as a country farming family and community undergo the stark reality of the modern and cruel overtaking of their land held for hundreds of years. It is in a Latin America country although...more
Grandpa Joe
This book was an off-the-cuff impulse purchase - except that I was at a library and not at a store. I knew nothing about either Daniel Mason or the book, except for a brief blurb on the back and the information that Mason wrote the "bestselling" The Piano Tuner which I haven't read. I chose this book (audio version) because it wasn't too long (7 CD's) and I needed something to listen to as I drove around in my car.

The book was a pleasant surprise. Mason has an interesting, poignant writing style...more
A Far Country är på många sätt en blandning av Carson McCullers språk och Toni Morrisons karaktärer. Det är en till ytan stillsam bok med en enkel handling. Om vi gräver lite djupare märker vi däremot en hel värld av symbolism och budskap som vi troligtvis hade missat. Mellan raderna kan vi ana att den verkliga handlingen inte utspelas här men där borta. Där vi inte är.Och inte nödvändigtvis i den skrämmande staden. Det är den inre resan som är viktig i A Far Country. Det uppstår däremot problem...more
Roger DeBlanck
Daniel Mason burst on the literary scene with his critically-acclaimed first novel, The Piano Tuner. A tale of one man’s journey into the sweltering jungles of 19th century Burma, it earned comparisons with Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. With his second novel, A Far Country, Mason returns with another mysterious story, told with his signature use of lyrical prose that matches the beauty of any serious novelist working today. The story, however, in this second novel is stunted and seems uncertain of...more
Victoria Song
I don't really know where this book came from. I never bought it—and I always remember the books I buy.. I'm convinced it just appeared one day on my bookshelf. So I was curious and decided to read it on a whim.

I haven't read Daniel Mason's The Piano Tuner, advertisements for which are plastered all over this book. I had no expectations for this book, but the premise sounded somewhat interesting.

"A Far Country" is the story of a Isabel, a young girl living in an unknown South American country,...more
I can't believe I let this sit on my bookshelf for three years before reading it. I was impressed with this one, and I was even more impressed with the author. His writing is just really lovely and delicate. Isabel's point of view is perfect in it's innocent nonchalance of the poverty, deprivation, and violence of the drought-stricken countryside and favela-like slums. The hint of magical realism that gives a South American flavor to his writing also works really well with his subject matter. I'...more
Since I really liked Mason's first book, "The Piano Tuner", I was excited to start this. I almost shelved it after 85 pages since I was falling asleep after every other page, but pressed on to my 100 page cut off. I'm glad I did. This is a story of a 14 year old girl in an undisclosed South American country who grows up in the sticks and heads to the big city. The early part of the book decribes how hard life is in the poor farming community stricken with drought (obvious and boring). It's not u...more
Carl Brush
I knew Daniel Mason from his super debut novel The Piano Tuner. And I felt an unjustified kinship with him on the basis that he was a classmate of a close friend’s daughter in medical school at UCSF. Mason is another one of those medical literary folks. It seems unfair for one person to be so gifted both in both the arts and the sciences. But leave that be. I was eager to get to this second effort and happy when a relative finished it while visiting from out out of town and left it with me. As s...more
This book was great until the end. I was disappointed that there wasn't more to tell I would describe this as: novel with a short story ending.

However, worth reading due to beautiful passages that encapsulate sadness, loneliness, despair and youth. Some of the writing is breathtaking. Some of these passages glued themselves into my consciousness. I can't wait to read "The Piano Tuner." I also loved that Isabel was "intuitive" and had extra senses. It added some magical realism and superstition...more
This is a very sad book. I was glad when it was over. This is a make believe country and people, but there are countless people who live this kind of life.

Many of the country people are moving to the cities, because of a draught, and they are having a hard time finding enough food to eat. They pay to get a ride on a crowded flat bed truck, that takes four days to reach the city. When they reach the city, the conditions are still not very good.

The author does a good job of describing the landsc...more
Here's my review from

Since I loved the Piano Tuner, I couldn't wait to read Daniel Mason's new book A Far Country. It's a meditative story of class, migration, isolation, and poverty. Mason again writes in beautiful lyrical prose. This is a more simple story than Piano Tuner, but important in it's message. At times I found the story drag and a bit flat. We know it takes place in an undisclosed South American country, but we don't know for sure when it was. It was either in the present...more
This book doesn't have a lot of historical context. The story of the girl traveling into the city from the country is not an old one, so the first thought is that this story happens in the past, but very modern ideas come up, and it becomes clear that this book actually takes place at an unspecified time and place in the present. It's then that the reader reaches the chilling realization that stories like this still happen. Isabel's experiences in the backlands with the drought and with the roug...more
I listened to the unabridged audio version of this adult novel and I was impressed, but I'm not sure if my students would be. This would be a great classroom novel to show what life is like in third world countries, but isn't something many students would pick up on their own.[return]Isabel was born in sugar cane country and grew up poor and hungry. She has a connection with her brother Isaias and is able to sense him in the cane and always find him. Then her brother runs away to the city to fin...more
I picked this book up the other day since I was in the bookstore and had a gift card. I read the reviews after I got home and they were not so good. However, I REALLY enjoyed the book.
The imagery and descriptions in this book were amazing. It is the story of a young girl presumably somewhere in South America who is sent to the city by her parents after years of droughts and hunger. She is following her brother there.
I usually get very bored when books seem to be overly descriptive. But I was so...more
I rarely abandon a book half way through (Book 2 of Twilight I MEAN YOU) but I let this one go at the half way point. The Piano Tuner was so lovely and engrossing and I kept waiting for that to happen with A Far Country but it just left me cold. I didn't love (or even hate) any of the characters in a way that compelled me to find out what happens to them and I think it had to do with the POV the story is told from. The protagonist is a 14 year-old girl from a rural countryside who goes to the ci...more
Donna Maroulis
I can always tell when a book is especially good because I find it hard to determine just exactly what made it work for me. I think this story gave me the right feel for the country and the changing roles in their society. The vast disparity in quality of life in this country is horrific ! You really see and feel it .
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
A quaint, old-fashioned word comes to mind while reading Daniel Mason’s second novel, and that word is “integrity”. Though it isn’t mentioned anywhere in the book, the country of the title is clearly Brazil, and, with his heart in the right place, Mason speaks to us of the age-old opposition between the city and the village.

Though Mason’s writing is knowledgeable and descriptive, the narrative meanders and strikes the same note time and again, contrasting urban and rural ways of life with a clea...more
What a sad tale! But, the author's imaginings are so thorough and straightforward you go along with him. The young girl is wide eyed and lucky, she survives the worse possible situations with no self pity.
Enjoyed this but not as much as The Piano Tuner. Story is of a young girl from the "backcountry" who moves to the city to find her brother. I most enjoyed Mason's descriptions of the city setting - shanty homes, slum-like streets & garbage dumps - and various urban dwellers and their daily routines. The "city" is never really named and could almost be anywhere in the world at any time; this one of the most interesting parts of the book for me as I found myself questioning my personal "prejud...more
May 25, 2010 Ruth rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like to read about life in other countries
Shelves: fiction
268 pages. Donated 2010 May.

From the bestselling author of The Piano Tuner, a stunning novel about a young girl’s journey through a vast, unnamed country in search of her brother.

Fourteen-year-old Isabel was born in a remote village with the gift and curse of “seeing farther.” When drought and war grip the backlands, her brother Isaias joins a great exodus to a teeming city in the south. Soon Isabel must follow, forsaking the only home she’s ever known, her sole consolation the thought of being...more
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Daniel Mason is an American novelist. He received a BA in biology from Harvard University, graduating at the top of his class. He later graduated from medical school at the University of California, San Francisco. He wrote his first novel, The Piano Tuner, while still a medical student. The book became a bestseller and was published in 27 countries[1]. Mason's second novel, A Far Country, was publ...more
More about Daniel Mason...
The Piano Tuner Gors Warriors (Alien Love #1) Picador Shots - 'Death of the Pugilist, or the Famous Battle of Jacob Burke and Blindman McGraw' Rush De man die kleur maakte

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“A world full of people who want to know what you will be, what is your skill and what is your purpose. In the north, if a man had come and said "What will you be? What will you do?" I would have laughed at this kind of person that lives all the time in the future.” 3 likes
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