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The Far Field

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  476 ratings  ·  92 reviews
"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 ...more
Hardcover, 448 pages
Published January 15th 2019 by Grove Press
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    Release date: Jan 15, 2019
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    “A ghastly secret lies at the heart of Madhuri Vijay’s stunning debut, The Far Field, and every chapter beckons us closer to discovering
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    Book of the Month
    Why I love it
    by Brianna Goodman

    When you work at BOTM, you read …. a lot of books. So many that at times I’m not even sure which ones I’ve got in my bag. So when I grabbed The Far Field as an in-case-I-run-out-of-things-to-read-this-weekend, it was a rare moment of serendipity; I had no idea I was packing a book so wonderful that it would become my favorite read of 2018.

    The Far Field follows Shalini, a young, fairly well-off Indian woman, who travels to the politically fraught region of Kashmir i
    ...more
    Ana
    At the end of last year, I decided to actually use my NetGalley account and request eARCs: I read some amazing ones, two of which were written by new favourite authors: Meg Elison & Samanta Schweblin.

    My first ARC for 2019 is Madhuri Vijay’s remarkable debut novel, The Far Field and I couldn’t be more thrilled: the writing completely swept me away, creating a vivid picture of the beauty of and the tragic and brutal conflicts in Kashmir and Kishtwar. It deals with social and political issu
    ...more
    Nadia
    Dec 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
    4.5 stars

    A couple of weeks ago, I started seeing this book everywhere - Instagram, Facebook, you name it... When I learnt it was set in India, I knew I had to read it.

    The story follows a 24 year old Shalini, a privileged young woman from Bangalore, who, after her mother's death, decides to set off on a journey to find her mother's long lost friend from Kashmir. The narrative switches between the presence and Shalini's childhood memories of her eccentric mother. Finding a pleasure in mocking and
    ...more
    Elizabeth
    Dec 29, 2018 rated it liked it
    Tl;dr: The Far Field has passages of gorgeous writing but pulls the novel equivalent of a hamstring trying to prove its point about privilege and what it does (nothing good) and how it blinds you.

    The Far Field is the recollections of Shalini, a thirty year old privileged woman living in Bangalore who shares what happened to her when, as a twentysomething grieving the death of her mother, she decided to track down a traveling salesman from Kashmir who visited their home (and who her mother was fa
    ...more
    Ron Charles
    Jan 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
    "The Far Field" is narrated by Shalini, who tells us at the opening, “I am thirty years old and that is nothing” — an acknowledgment that she is neither young enough to be innocent nor old enough to be wise. She delivers this searching story in a trance of sorrow, still stunned by the cruelty she witnessed and the disaster she precipitated.

    Like Anuradha Roy’s recent novel, “All the Lives We Never Lived,” “The Far Field” is about the search for a missing mother in India, though it takes a wholly
    ...more
    Lisa
    Jan 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
    The main character in The Far Field is a prickly, emotionally disconnected young woman who travels to Kashmir to seek a connection with her dead mother. Even though I was frustrated with Shalani, there is much to appreciate in this novel. Her relationship with her mother and separately, her father were vividly drawn. Both settings, a wealthy home in Bangalore and the mountains of Kashmir were new to me and eye-opening. Focusing on just one small area of India, Vijay illuminates a complicated pol ...more
    Hayley Stenger
    Dec 25, 2018 rated it liked it
    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
    Amna Ikhlaq
    Nov 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
    Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a digital advanced reader's copy for review.

    The Far Field is a fictitious story of a girl who goes searching for answers to the questions she has about the enigmatic life of her mother but ends up becoming deeply embroiled in the political turmoil of Kashmir.

    Madhuri Vijay's prose is hauntingly beautiful. It took me quite a few pages to realize that the book was not actually a work of fiction because the characters seem so real straight off the bat. Th
    ...more
    Karin
    Dec 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    This story swept me away, it felt like I was watching a movie and seeing it play out in front of me. The characters and the setting felt very real. Really this is a 4 star read that i'm rounding up because I was so enthralled. The ending.... makes our main character out to be incredibly naive, but given her upbringing and how sheltered she is, I think I buy it. Regardless, I still found this enchanting, I hope Vijay writes more!
    April Perdomo
    Dec 22, 2018 rated it liked it
    This book inspired just about every emotion in me. First, it took me a little while to get into it. Then, by the middle I was absolutely enthralled and loved every page. Yet, by the end, I was angry and then I little underwhelmed as I did not feel like it delivered on its initial setup.

    The book is narrated by a young woman named Shalini. Throughout the novel Shalini is dealing with the grief of losing her mother. While working through her grief, she decides to seek out an old friend of her moth
    ...more
    Juanita
    Jan 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
    This book was a low burn for me, until the last 200 pages or so. It’s really sad and complicated. I feel like I learned a lot about the area near the Indian/Pakistani border, and the conflicts between the Hindu and the Muslims who live there. I was constantly googling things as I read. It ended up being a really haunting read.
    Simrun Soni
    Dec 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    Though it takes some time to build up, trust that it does and it engages you and brings you in where you forget it’s a novel and not a memoir. The author hit it out of the park. She humanizes the Kashmiri conflict that’s been plaguing India and Pakistan for years in one woman’s experience and journey. It was nothing I was expecting and like nothing I have read before. Thank you Book of the Month club.
    Cydney Daniel
    Jan 04, 2019 rated it liked it
    Shelves: fiction
    Just closed this book, and I’m giving it a solid 3 stars right now. Writing was lovely, but this ending was devastating to me. I’ll probably write a longer review tomorrow after I process a little more, but seriously.. heart wrenched out and thrown on the ground. Not even in a way that feels redeemable.

    Added 1/5/19:

    I loved the writing and the themes of this book. I appreciated the focus on how privilege can hurt you and those around you, and how strong Shalini’s mother’s presence was throughout
    ...more
    Kacie
    Dec 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
    This was my first book selection as a Book of the Month member, and it did not disappoint. While I don't typically reach for character-driven 400+ page novels, the BOTM description sounded appealing.

    Set in Bangalore and then Kashmir, we follow Shalini as she seeks a man from her mother's past. Early in the book, we learn that her mother (an erratic, troubled, difficult woman) has died.

    Shalini wants to find Bashir Ahmed, a Kashmiri clothing merchant who had visited her mother and developed a fri
    ...more
    Deborah Stevens
    Jan 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Madhuri Vijay has done a masterful job with plot, characters and setting. I'm generally pleased if two of the three are done well, but when all three are, I can't put the book down. I read this one in one greedy gulp, and kept thinking of it when I could not be reading.

    I appreciated the themes of this story- chiefly, coming of age, grappling to understand a complicated parent, and the struggle for crosscultural understanding. Shalini is a very flawed protagonist and her (understandable) mistakes
    ...more
    Annie
    Dec 17, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    The last place a grieving young woman should go is to a low-level war zone. And yet, that’s what Shalini does in Madhuri Vijay’s devastating The Far Field, several months after her mother’s death. Shalini recalls enough details about her mother’s friend, Bashir Ahmed, to locate his village in Jammu and Kashmir. She abandons her home in Bangalore (Bengaluru), stuffs a bunch of money and clothes into a rucksack, and takes a train north with no goal other than a vague plan to find Bashir and tell h ...more
    Jodi
    Dec 21, 2018 rated it liked it
    This reviewer finds it difficult to like any book in which there are no principle characters worthy of interest--there was no sympathy for any of the main protagonists: Shalini, her mom, her dad, Bashir Ahmed, nor Riyaz. Zoya and Abdul Latief and Amina, as minor characters, deserve the readers empathy but it is not enough for this reviewer to warm to the story.

    Shalini, goes through life not accepting responsibility for her actions, (the reader is even led to accept that the blame for her going t
    ...more
    Hannah
    Jan 04, 2019 rated it it was ok
    Vijay's debut novel is set in 2005/2006 and centers on a 24 year old woman, Shalini, who travels from her home in Bangalore, India to Kashmir in search of a man she remembers from her childhood. But Shalini's naivety causes her to become caught up in a situation she does not fully understand, harming the lives of those around her.

    I found it hard to sympathize with Shalini, who in addition to being extremely (at times unbelievably) naive is also selfish and immature. There is little character gro
    ...more
    Jenna
    Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    A special debut book examining a young women’s relationship with her mother as she comes to term with her mother’s traumatic and sudden death. The Far Far Field is a fresh take on the coming of age story, taking a hard look at discovering the type of person you are, owning your identity, and living with/accepting the choices you make in life. It’s a long read, well worth it but best read in several sittings.
    Amy
    Jan 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
    Okay this took me forever to read because it’s really heavy and sad but also really beautifully written, and reminded me a lot of The God of Small Things. Shalini is 21 when she loses her mother, and 23 when she embarks on a quest to find a man from her past. This book looks at family and war and loss in so many ways it can be hard to read at times, but if you like character driven novels, I definitely recommend giving this one a try.
    Lexi Kate
    Jan 07, 2019 rated it liked it
    These characters are uniquely flawed, deeply human, frustrating and only occasionally lovable. One of those books where you wish you could hop into the pages and help the characters make better life choices while also giving them a hug. Definitely an interesting read, and would particularly recommend as a book group book to help readers unpack the different decision points, it's frustrating to go with it alone. Slow start into an eventual page turner.
    Rachel Wierick
    Dec 22, 2018 rated it liked it
    3.5 stars because I went back and forth between 3 and 4 so often.

    I will first say the writing is beautiful. I was drawn in immediately and never felt like I was slogging through the book--I wanted to stay in the mountains of Kashmir forever.

    But. Shalini is the least interesting character in the book, and mostly seems like a vehicle for this story to be told. Overall I enjoyed reading this book, but the ending was unsatisfying and sad (are we supposed to congratulate her for moving on from the
    ...more
    Carol Scheidenhelm
    Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
    finished with an unsettled feeling about the well-intentioned but completely naive (or selfish?) main character, a product of parents who also did not fully understand situations beyond their own circumstances. The book did get me thinking about how too often we simply don't know what our actions produce--even unintentionally.
    Farrah
    Dec 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
    I read the last 224 pages in one day. Could not put this book down! I was my Book of the Month Club pick for December!
    Shubhra massey
    Jan 13, 2019 rated it it was ok
    This book started off as interesting and with the twists and turns it kept my interest but eventually I grew to strongly dislike the main character. The book doesn’t need to be this long as there’re details that are unnecessary.
    SPANTA628
    Dec 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
    There’s so much about this book I could “talk” about- social issues, familial issues, depression, privilege v poverty, etc. etc- and perhaps I eventually will, but for now I’m a summarization station:

    This is a relatively long book, yet it didn’t feel like it.

    I truly appreciate, regardless of the fact I’ve nothing to reference in terms of personal experience, the exploration into India this novel provides- it definitely made me more aware of my citizenship in terms of global rather than nationa
    ...more
    Kelly
    Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
    Shelves: read-in-2018
    An ambitious novel with well-developed characters and an evocative sense of place. It has some parts that didn’t seem to fit together well, and the main character’s naïveté and immaturity were appalling and unbelievable, but it still deserves four stars and is a great accomplishment for a debut author.
    Leah Rachel von Essen
    Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it

    No time for a full review, but The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay was haunting and thought-provoking. It asked questions about privilege and intrusion into spaces of trauma.

    Candace
    Dec 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
    Shalini is at loose ends following the death of her mother, Nothing is working right. It's been more than two years since her loss and she cannot manage her grief and fury. .Shalini and her mother were close--surprising since her mother was one of those acidic, funny, cruel women who would be a nightmare to have as a parent. In thinking about her mother's life, she recalls the few times she saw her mother happy and bright, those times when a Kashmiri man selling clothing would come by their hous ...more
    Veronica
    Dec 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
    Sometimes good intentions just aren’t enough. The main character learns this in really terrible ways. And just when you think she has learned her lesson, she makes even more mistakes. But, isn’t that life? We can make the same mistakes over and over again, thinking that we know better, and find that we really haven’t learned a thing. While hindsight can be 20/20..if given the chance, would we reeeeally do it any different?

    There are too many discussions to be had surrounding this book..the loss
    ...more
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    Book of The Month: The Far Field 3 24 Dec 10, 2018 04:48PM  
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    Madhuri Vijay was born in Bangalore. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, and her writing has appeared in Best American Non-Required Reading, Narrative Magazine and Salon, among other publications. The Far Field is her first book.
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