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Fieldwork: A Novel

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | Fieldwork: A Novel.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Mischa Berlinski(Author) William Dufris(Narrator)

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This is a daring and spellbinding first novel of anthropologists, missionaries, demon possession, sexual taboos, murder, and an obsessed young reporter. 'This is a great story...You can't stop reading until midnight (good), and you don't hate yourself in the morning (better).' - Stephen King.When his girlfriend takes a job in northern Thailand, Mischa goes along for the ride, finding work as a freelance reporter for an English-language newspaper. One drunken evening a fellow expat tips him off to a story. A charismatic American anthropologist serving a life sentence for murder, Martiya van der Leun, has been found dead in her prison cell - she has committed suicide. 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.His search draws him deep into her world. 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 who Martiya studied and lived among. 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, fell in love with one of her subjects.

A top-notch debut novel... A reader doesn't have to have any interest in Christian missionary work, anthropology, or the hill tribes of Thailand to be riveted, but odds are you'll have a greater appreciation for all three - not to mention Berlinski's storytelling - by the time you put Fieldwork down. Grade A. -- Christian Science MonitorAn impressive feat of literary acrobatics... This sad and powerful tale is an inspired and courageous book. -- San Fransisco ChronicleGripping and entertaining...you know you're in the hands of a writer to whom the novel form is, when all's said, as natural as an old overcoat... A quirky, often brilliant debut, bounced along by limitless energy --New York Review --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Review Text

  • By Phileas Fogg on 24 May 2017

    Quick, great condition, real bargain, exciting read

  • By camac on 12 May 2017

    Interesting - a book set in Thailand dealing with missionaries and anthropologists. That’s how it seemed. But…I didn’t read the author’s notes until the end, when I learned he made up the tribal people he described in such detail. The highlands which run through northern Thailand, Burma, China, Tibet and onwards are home to numerous tribes. Would it have been so difficult to bring one of them to life?The missionaries were unbelievable. We are still people with human virtues, failings, desires whether we try to proselytise our beliefs widely or not. Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible has the feel of reality to it whereas our wonderful Walkers and their angel-attuned ears do not.A lot was made of Martiya’s ‘curiosity’ which began to burn and drive her to the point of insanity. As an anthropologist she began her fieldwork stunningly bored by the Dyalo people she studied, but persisted until finally set alight. Her slow fall into burning curiosity was compared with Malinowski’s earlier experience.Although what Berlinski wrote about her possible anthropological studies was well done, it was done in such a way as to leave me fully aware of a novelist writing a novel, rather than allowing me to live Martiya’s experiences. He - for Berlinski is in his own novel as the investigator - sought information about Martiya through interviews and letters as Martiya herself is dead by the time he begins the investigation. And we are meant to believe that via this route we can know the weather conditions, the conversations she held with the tribal people, her own thoughts and feelings. It would have been far more believable if the author had left allowed Martiya to remain alive in her prison cell and to gradually tell her own story - coaxed from her by Berlinski bit by bit as he expanded his knowledge of her via those interviews and letters. Most of the dramatic story and its dramatic conclusion was told by Martiya’s guide/translator who visited her in prison some years before Berlinski turned up. So what we’re hearing is third hand and yet so unbelievably detailed.But the biggest BUT is the lack of a political context in this book. Martiya was in northern Thailand highlands during and after the Vietnam war. We hear nothing of the refugees which must have been fleeing from Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. That part of the world is known as a refuge in painful times. We hear nothing of what the missionaries thought of their fellow Christians committing genocide nextdoor. We hear nothing of how the CIA and military organisations might have sought to use Americans who were familiar with local people and languages, and we hear nothing of how all this affected the tribal people.This could have been a really interesting book, if only…

  • By JoV on 3 June 2008

    I picked up this book because it was about Thailand and the hill tribes. I had wandered as far as Chiang Mai and had always inspired to go beyond the city to the mountains to visit the tribes. I love books which relate two (or three) unseemingly disjointed subjects and concocted them into a juicy, suspense story. What has Anthropology got to do with Christian missionaries? The answer is : A lot! The chapters are segmented into both point of views of the anthropologist and the family of missionaries, without losing sight of leading the readers towards a credible conclusion, every findings is a step closer to why the anthropologist did what she did. Sad, tragic, insightful, hilarious ... all rolled into one. This book is brilliant. If you are tired of trashy, time wasters novels in the market, try reading "fieldwork", the short title may not conjure much imagination, but you will come out both more informed (a book with wealth of research information) and gratified (suspense novel with mystery and family saga). Thumbs up, can't wait to read what Mischa has to write in the future.


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