The Far Field

Madhuri Vijay. Grove, $27 (448p) ISBN 978-0-802-12840-9
Vijay’s remarkable debut novel is an engrossing narrative of individual angst played out against political turmoil in India’s Jammu and Kashmir state in the late 2000s. Unmoored by her mother’s death, 24-year-old Shalini apathetically floats from job to job while receiving financial support from her affluent father. In an effort to find closure, Shalini leaves her native Bangalore to search for Bashir Ahmed, her mother’s only friend, who she hasn’t seen in years. Upon arriving in tumultuous Jammu, Shalini is taken in by a Muslim family in Kishtwar and struggles to understand the fractured nature of her surroundings: the role of the omnipresent Indian Army, the disappearances of local Muslims, and the frequent violence against and perpetrated by both Muslims and Hindus. Her search eventually leads to a Himalayan village, whose generous inhabitants temporarily give her a sense of purpose amidst staggering natural beauty. However, Shalini’s ignorance and inability to be honest with herself and others results in dangerous consequences for everyone she comes in contact with. Interspersed with flashbacks of Shalini’s relationships with her dazzling yet mentally ill mother, the mysterious but kind Bashir Ahmed, and her withdrawn father, Shalini’s misguided attempts at love, fulfillment, and friendship are poignant. Vijay’s stunning debut novel expertly intertwines the personal and political to pick apart the history of Jammu and Kashmir. Agent: Claudia Ballard, William Morris (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 10/29/2018
Release date: 01/15/2019
Genre: Fiction
Ebook - 978-0-8021-4637-3
Pre-Recorded Audio Player - 978-1-974930-11-1
MP3 CD - 978-1-974930-10-4
Compact Disc - 978-1-974930-06-7
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