The Far Field (Paperback)

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Staff Reviews

In this gorgeously written debut novel, Shalini is a young woman living in upper class Bangalore when her mother--a complicated figure in her life--dies. Adrift in her grief, Shalini travels north to Kashmir to try to find Bashir Ahmed, a charming traveling salesman who frequently visited their home when Shalini was a girl, spinning tales and winning her mother's heart. Shalini is, however, terribly naive about the complicated interplay of religion, class, and militancy at play in the region of Kashmir that she visits. When she finally tracks down Bashir Ahmed's family in a small mountainous village, her presence disrupts the delicate balance of their lives, with grave consequences. Seen through the intimate lens of Shalini's interpersonal interactions, The Far Field is a bittersweet examination of privilege and selfishness, of longing and sorrow, of awakening to the world as it truly is.

— Michael

January 2019 Indie Next List

“Few seasoned novelists — let alone a first-time novelist like Madhuri Vijay — are able to construct scene after scene with compelling interior drama, tension, and forward momentum, but you’ll never want to stop reading as Vijay skillfully combines a personal journey and family mystery with a political examination of the Kashmiri-Indian troubles. Shalini, the narrator of this extraordinary work, has a mother who immediately belongs on any shortlist of literature’s great characters. If I read a better novel in 2019, then 2019 will become my favorite year of the 21st century.”
— Brian Lampkin, Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC

Winter 2019 Reading Group Indie Next List

The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay is stunning! Shalini, a young woman from Bangalore, is searching for a man from her childhood among the remote Himalayan villages of Kashmir in the hope of learning about her layered and enigmatic mother. Her journey forces her to go face-to-face with the region’s politics while contending with the matters of her heart. Madhuri Vijay’s writing is so evocative and aromatic, I could smell perfume and plumes of smoke in her sentences. I absolutely loved it!”
— Thu Doan, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, TX


"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

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.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780802147967
ISBN-10: 0802147968
Publisher: Grove Press
Publication Date: October 15th, 2019
Pages: 448
Language: English