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The Far Field

"This powerfully arresting debut sees an unsettled Bangalorean woman travel to a remote region of politically fractured Kashmir, with ricocheting repercussions."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

Thirty-year-old Shalini has lived a privileged life, but one beset by uncertainty. She was her erratic mother’s “little beast” and is struggling to come to terms with her tragic death. Adrift from work and the wider world, Shalini journeys to find Bashir, a travelling salesman she and her mother befriended through her childhood, tentatively hoping this will provide some understanding of her mother’s death.

As Shalini’s journey unfolds in the present, a second narrative reveals her past with raw poignancy. On the road, Shalini’s faltering need to belong somewhere is revealed through her romantic imaginings of being part of a stranger’s family. And then, in Bashir’s remote Himalayan village, she becomes caught in a complex political situation, with the tangled conflict between her heart and conscience made powerfully palpable. While she feels “I had chosen this place, these people, this life, with its secrets and its violence, it’s hardness and its beauty”, Shalini recognises that she’s thrown Bashir’s family “into disarray with my invasion and my probing questions”.

The writing is so exquisitely magnetic that I struggled to draw myself away from it, especially as Shalini’s story rose to an unexpected, pulse-quickening climax. This is the rare kind of novel that lingers long in the heart and mind, like a dream one feels compelled to return to. 

Joanne Owen

Star Books

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Primary Genre Family Drama
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Reader Reviews

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A powerful book that takes you into uncharted territory. A story of bravery and danger, love and loathing, that shows how our actions can influence the lives of others.

An accomplished work especially for a first novel. The author evokes a vivid picture of life in India, whether in the city of Bangalore or a mountain village.
I found Shalini, our heroine, rather frustrating at times in her choice of action, or inaction in some cases. But all the way through she is shown as a believable, if flawed character, I sort of liked her, but at times didn't.

It's a memorable and often moving tale of a young woman searching for something more in her life, which isn't as pretentious as it sounds. After the death of her mother with whom she had a close but complicated relationship, she decides to go travelling to find an old family friend.... Read Full Review

christine woolfenden

A book about grief and trying to find your way, and the impact one person can have on many.

Madhuri Vijay takes us to India and Kashmir. Tension in the work is created between comparing the lives of rich urban Indians and poor mountain Kashmiri folk. The contrast could not be starker: from opportunities; to money; to education, to the choice of how to live their lives. It takes us into a political conflict between Muslims and Indians who are mostly Hindu in this book. It helps us see that not all militants are rabid, screaming stereotypes but human beings and what unexpectedly could drive them to act as they do.

The narrator Shalini is 30 years old and has not found her way in life. She goes on a mission to find answers about her childhood hoping it will give her answers.... Read Full Review

Tracey Thomas

Shalini’s journey from Bangalore to Kashmir, to track down an old friend of her mother’s, has repercussions for both herself and her Kashmiri friends that will stay with you for a long time. A stunning first novel.

In the aftermath of her mother’s death, Shalini loses her way in life and she eventually embarks on a journey to Kashmir, to track down an old friend of her mother’s from years ago. Her journey takes her almost the length of India, but the cultural distance between her home in the large southern city of Bangalore and the Kashmiri mountain village she learns to call home is far greater.

This is a stunning and original debut, it’s hard to believe it is a first novel. The language is creative and strongly evocative, not only bringing the reader deep into the life and culture of Bangalore and Kashmir, but creating a sense of helplessness and hopelessness at the final outcome of Shalini’s journey.

It is a novel to be savoured and enjoyed, one to immerse yourself in.... Read Full Review

Alison Burns