The far field : a novel / Madhuri Vijay.
Booklist Reviews 2018 November #2
*Starred Review* Living back home in Bangalore after attending university, Shalini is adrift since her mother's recent death. When her father encourages her to come up with some sort of plan, she surprises even herself with a ready response: in fact, she's planning a trip to Kashmir. Secretly, she hopes to find a friend of her mother's whom she hasn't seen in years, a traveling salesman named Bashir Ahmed who stopped visiting when the political unrest in his region took too great a toll on him and his family. On her travels north, Shalini is struck repeatedly by how ill-prepared she was for such a journey, and by how little she wants it to end. Alternating chapters address Shalini's time in Kashmir, where she is introduced to others' astonishing struggles—and welcomed into their care—in a way she's never before experienced; and flash back to her childhood, unraveling the mysteries of her sharp-edged, dearly beloved mother and the man Shalini has crossed a country to find. Vijay intertwines her story's threads with dazzling skill. Dense, layered, impossible to pin—or put—down, her first novel is an engrossing tale of love and grief, politics and morality. Combining up-close character studies with finely plotted drama, this is a triumphant, transporting debut. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.
LJ Reviews 2018 August #1
In Pushcart Prize winner Vijay's debut novel, Shalini heads to a distant Kashmiri village, seeking a traveling salesman who no longer visits, a factor she links to her mother's recent death. When she arrives, she must instead confront village tension and Kashmir's political turmoil.Copyright 2018 Library Journal.
LJ Reviews 2019 January #1
DEBUT Set in Bangalore, India, Pushcart Prize winner Vijay's birthplace, this novel follows a young woman in search of herself. After losing her job, 30-year-old Shalini leaves her comfortable life and treks far north to Kishtwar to locate a salesman named Bashir Ahmed, whom she recalls from her childhood. There she learns the extent of the mysterious relationship between Ahmed and her mother and develops an unexpected relationship with Ahmed's son Riyaz and his family. Shalini immerses herself in the simplicities of life, even learning to milk a cow, and also becomes an English tutor to the daughter of a key village member. But in this remote region she also comes to understand firsthand the hard, dangerous truths of class struggles, politics, and gender in her country.
PW Reviews 2018 October #5
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.