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A Far Country

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3.26  ·  Rating details ·  814 ratings  ·  171 reviews
Throughout their childhood in the dusty cane fields of San Michael, Isabel and her older brother Isaias have been inseparable. But when Isaias runs away to become a musician, Isabel's life changes irrevocably.
Hardcover, 265 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Picador USA (first published January 1st 2007)
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3.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  814 ratings  ·  171 reviews


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Chrissie
Daniel Mason Is a contemporary author to keep your eye on. He is talented. He writes extremely well, consistently fitting the prose to the theme and subject of a book. Each book is unique; none are repeats of earlier books. They differ in how they are written and in subject matter.

The setting, the backdrop of the tale told here, is not defined. You must guess. I guess Brazil. That the country where the story rolls out is not specified is, I believe, intentional. It is the book’s central theme th
...more
Julie Christine
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
Shane
Jul 18, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Cherie
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
Jeslyn
Jun 21, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent second outing - I've yet to read anything I wasn't completely engrossed in 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
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
Adriana
Aug 06, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Smriti Brar
Aug 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A poignant tale about a girl's journey to find her brother. Very descriptive with heart wrenching details in places. A sensitive narration.
Max de Freitas
The first mystery was - where was the setting? Place names were fictitious. Surnames were never mentioned. I concluded it was in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in southern Brazil. This is a state where a large number of German immigrants settled but the characters seemed unaware of their heritage. This area has produced a disproportionate number of super models. Why more than mother Germany? Probably because the poor women had so much less to eat that they were anorexic enough to be suitable run ...more
Melody Kitchens
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ink Drinker
3.25 At other times in my life, I would not have persevered to complete this novel. However, I’m devouring the written word in early 2018 and the page count was tolerable. Others may have been disappointed with this novel because it serves as narrative for the sake of narrative. There is no plot and its brilliance is (only) in the portrayal of the life for those sustenance farming in harsh desert terrain migrating to the urban wasteland of a cronyist industrialism. Cronyism, lack of rule of law, ...more
Diane
Aug 29, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recently read the superb book The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason and I was eager to tackle his other writings. This one paled in comparison. Mason is a gifted writer and his descriptions of weather, poverty and drought are unmatched. His characters and narrative in this novel fell flat. They are basically vague and undeveloped and left me feeling detached. . The action takes place in an unidentified country (Brazil? Mexico?) where sugar cane and cassava are grown. The drought brings starvation ...more
Annette
Interesting plot in an Hispanic area, family life in a drought stricken area (very well described), and the consequential flight of a young girl to the ‘big city’ settlements, raw and squalid with severe poverty, but secure family values.
All in all, an aimless kind of plot that had subplots that did help to describe the poverty but seemingly not connected to the main question of the mysteriously missing brother of the young girl (14 years old) main character.
I wanted to read this author and I
...more
Jennie
Aug 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audio
I listened to this book and I felt as though the narrator started off by leaning into you and telling you a secret. That "secret voice" continued throughout the ENTIRE book, which was a bit annoying. I am learning that if this happens again, I may just put down the book altogether and read it personally, instead of listening to it.
As far as the book, it was okay. It did not really have any major highs and lows for me. I was hoping that they would expand on Isabell's "powers" a little more, but
...more
Robert Ditterich
A tender tale about the loss of culture and ultimately the loss of hope for isolated rural communities and the individuals who escape them in an unidentified south american country. The persistence of drought which causes an exodus into slum fringes of a city is the prime force in the challenges that face the characters. It is poignant and delicately written. The story is driven more by character than by plot.
Lee
Mar 25, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Having enjoyed other books written by Daniel Mason, I was disappointed with A Far Country. I had to labor through it.

For starters, one has to speculate/imagine where the story takes place. Perhaps South America? It's the story of a young girl, Isabel who goes looking for her older brother in the city who has sought a better life.

I just can't 'oh and ah' about this book.
Lara
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not as good as The Piano Tuner or The Winter Soldier, but still worth reading. A thought-provoking novel on poverty and lack of education in an unnamed, presumably South American country. Or perhaps the dystopian United States of the far future. Veered toward magical realism at times, but not enough to annoy.
Laura Nale
Oct 14, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am not even sure what to say about this book other than thank goodness I am done. This whole book is about Isabel searching for her brother and when she finally finds him....nothing that's it...she finds him. Nothing more...BORING!
Eric Cassell
His next book is excellent

This is a book with a linear story but no story that makes you glad you started and fulfilled by the end. It is well written and the characters and the setting are good and real. His 2nd novel “The Piano Tuner,” is excellent!
S.G.Radonsky
interesting however, I really read just to finish. Too dark for me. I don't like books that I can 'see' what's happening and can't help the 'family' 'girl' 'cousin'. I did want to know more of Manuela as it appeared she was succeeding on her own; that was pleasing.
Anne Dennis
Nov 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book moved me deeply. The narrator is a wholly faithful and believable young woman, and her dedication to finding her brother left me with a belief in our humanity in the midst of what can only be dehumanizing reality.
Simonew
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a way this book reminded me of "The High Mountains of Portugal" BUT I liked this book so much more !
Kris Kennett
A young girl's search for her brother as rural people move to the city. Fictitious country. Not particularly up lifting.
Jessica Feinstein
Loved it!
Brent Bowker
Was a somewhat interesting journey from the poor country into the city in search of her brother. Just felt like it needed some key event. Finding her brother felt underwhelming to me.
Linda
Oct 19, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Lots of pretty words, not much story. I couldn't wait to move on to something else.
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
Carl R.
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
June Ahern
Mar 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Alumine Andrew
Aug 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Daniel Mason is the author of The Piano Tuner (2002), A Far Country (2007), and The Winter Soldier (2018). His writing has been translated into 28 languages, adapted for opera and stage and shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Northern California Book Award. His short stories and essays have appeared in Harper’s, Zoetrope: All Story and Lapham’s Quarterly, and have been awar ...more
“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.” 6 likes
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