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Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski


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June 2009 Debut of the Month.

Told in the first person by a freelance journalist, this is an investigation into the circumstances that led an American anthropologist to be jailed for murder in Thailand. It is a fascinating, multi-stranded, informative story. The detail of missionary work, primitive tribes, life in Thailand and other eastern areas are presented as non-fiction, complete with footnotes, but it’s a tale of jealousy, grief and murder, completely enthralling.

Comparison: Tash Aw, Amitav Ghosh, Geoff Ryman.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski

Mischa is a freelance reporter for an English-language newspaper in Thailand. One drunken evening he hears a story about the suicide of Martiya van der Leun, a charismatic American anthropologist who was serving a life sentence for murder. What begins as mild curiosity in the case rapidly becomes an obsession, as Mischa seeks to reconstruct the details of Martiya’s life – and death. He interviews her colleagues, seeks out the family of her victim, and eventually travels into the Thai hills, into the world of the remote Dyalo tribe whom Martiya studied and among whom she lived. What he uncovers is a tragic love story: of a woman who fell in love with the field and then – much later and with fatal consequences – with one of her subjects.


'This is a great story… You can’t stop reading.' Stephen King

'Gripping and entertaining… Exuberant and inventive… A quirky, often brilliant debut.' Hilary Mantel, New York Review of Books

'Fieldwork is that rare thing – an entertainingly readable novel of ideas… Berlinski’s narrative is brilliantly plotted and builds to a shattering but entirely credible conclusion.' Los Angeles Times

About the Author

Mischa Berlinski was born in New York in 1973. He studied classics at the University of California at Berkeley and at Columbia University. He has worked as a journalist in Thailand

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Book Info

Publication date

1st June 2009


Mischa Berlinski

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Atlantic Books


320 pages


Literary Fiction
Debuts of the Month
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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