The Far Field (Grove Press)
An elegant, epic debut from a tremendous new talent and Pushcart Prize-winner, Madhuri Vijay The Far Field follows one young woman’s search for a lost figure from her childhood, a journey that carries her from cosmopolitan Bangalore in Southern India to the mountains of Kashmir and to the brink of a devastating political and personal reckoning.
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 as soon as Shalini arrives, she is brought face to face with Kashmir’s dark 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.
Praise for The Far Field
“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
“I had to remind myself while reading The Far Field that this is the work of a debut novelist, and not a mid-career book by a master writer at the height of her powers. Madhuri Vijay astonishes with her wisdom, her fearlessness, her sure handling of a desperately loaded narrative that’s equal parts love story, war story, and family intrigue. Such is the power of Vijay’s writing that I finished the book feeling like I’d lived it. Only the very best novels are experienced, as opposed to merely read, and this is one of those rare and brilliant novels.”—Ben Fountain, author of Beautiful Country Burn Again
“I am in awe of Madhuri Vijay. With poised and measured grace, The Far Field tells a story as immediate and urgent as life beyond the page. I will think of these characters – tender and complex, mysterious and flawed, remarkably real to me – for years to come, as though I have lived alongside them.”—Anna Noyes, author of Goodnight, Beautiful Women
“Utterly immersive and vividly realized, The Far Field is that rare gem of a novel which effortlessly transports the reader into distant, unfamiliar terrain through the force of a story deeply anchored in the humanity of its characters. Madhuri Vijay’s debut marks the arrival of an astonishing new talent.”—Elliot Ackerman, author of Waiting for Eden
“This riveting and unique book faces the most troubling, insoluble questions with a bold, keen clarity that has no patience for anything less than the complete truth, even if that truth is disappointing or merciless or dark. The fierce undertow of Vijay’s prose masterfully propels this story about loyalty, about how we create, sustain, and inevitably break our bonds with other people.”—Merritt Tierce, author of Love Me Back
“A strikingly unusual book full of beauty and surprise.”—Sonia Faleiro, author of Beautiful Thing
“What do we spend our lives searching for? What lasts and what pushes us forward? These are some of the questions Madhuri Vijay’s The Far Field explores and navigates with a heart on fire. Stunning in its artistry, in its engagement with the world and the personal, this is a profound and monumental achievement composed with rage, vulnerability, humor, grief, and mystery. How dangerous this novel is, in the very best of ways, and how grateful I am for this writer and for her creation.”—Paul Yoon, author of The Mountain
Madhuri Vijay is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow and a recipient of the Henfield Prize. Vijay’s writing has received a Pushcart Prize, as well as a 30-Below Prize from Narrative Magazine, and has appeared in Best American Non-Required Reading, Narrative, and Salon, among other publications. Vijay was born in Bangalore. The Far Field is her first book.
Photo by Manvi Rao