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Fieldwork by Mischa Berlinski

Fieldwork (2007)

by Mischa Berlinski

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5965116,462 (3.67)55

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Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
What a brilliant read. It is wonderful to see fiction that admits its debt to the anthropological memoir, a genre of literature that would not exist but for human curiosity. Although this is overtly a work of fiction all its nuances felt right and the story, well the story infected me just as well as any flu bug that I can recall. Highly recommended. Read it on a sofa while shutting off the real world as much as is possible. And take joy from it where you can...I know I found plenty. ( )
  TomMcGreevy | Apr 24, 2015 |
Tx Natalie for clearly & charmingly summarizing lots of perspectives so it was easy for me to file this book on my shelves.
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Apr 14, 2015 |
Much better than I expected. I was so dubious when i saw the Chess Club Pres author picture and it was billed as an exotic thriller set in Thailand but it was really quite different and quite enjoyable. I did not expect the twists it took or the long diversions into the Walker missionary family but it was all well-written and very interesting. To the detriment of work at times, I really could not put it down and powered through to the end in one night. The end did tend to fall off a bit but I liked the murkiness of the ending.
  amyem58 | Jul 3, 2014 |
An amazing story for anyone interested in other cultures. A cultural anthropologist lives among a native tribe in northern Thailand, murders a missionary, and spends 10 years in a Thai prison before committing suicide. A journalist delves into the mysteries surrounding past events, uncovering cultural beliefs, the conflict inherent in missionary work, and the perils of "going native." Part ethnology, part murder mystery, this was totally engaging, no doubt because of my anthropology background. ( )
  sushitori | Aug 1, 2013 |
This book started out with a lot of promise. An American anthropologist, Martiya van der Leun, living in a remote Thai village, is tried for murder of a young Christian missionary. The narrator of this story, Mischa Berlinski (who names their main characters after themselves?), is an American ex-pat living in Thailand as a freelance writer. When he hears about Martiya's story, she has been in prison for several years and has recently committed suicide. Armed with some notes from her journal, Mischa becomes obsessed with this story in trying to find a motive or explanation for her crime.

I picked up this book since I will be vacationing in Thailand and wanted to read a novel that gave me some insight to the country. This book definitely conveys the impression of the happy-go-lucky nature of the Thai people as well as the diversity of the population, especially in some of the remote rural areas. But, the story of this book took a lot of bizarre turns. There is way too much background on both Martiya and the Christian missionary. Adding stories about how each of their grandparents' met is not only unnecessary but detracts from the overall plot. There were long descriptions of how the missionary leaves Thailand and spends years following the Grateful Dead. Is Jerry Garcia relevant to this book? The problem with so many diversions is that when the ending is revealed, it seems anti-climatic. Readers look to find those threads that tie everything neatly together. Instead I was left with a disappointing feeling of 'is that all?' ( )
  jmoncton | Jun 3, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
Fieldwork is a clever book, chock-full of David Foster Wallace–esque footnotes and moments of direct address. The arc of the story is interrupted by a variety of informants: Martiya’s roommate from Berkeley; Martiya’s advisor/lover (who once arrived at his cultural anthropology class “wearing nothing but a handsome, three-foot-long embroidered penis sheath”); Martiya herself, in letters. There is pleasure in piecing these bits together, but we occasionally lose sight of Mischa, despite his self-referential devices.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0312427468, Paperback)

When his girlfriend takes a job in Thailand, Mischa Berlinski goes along for the ride, planning to enjoy himself and work as little as possible. But one evening a fellow expatriate tips him off to a story: a charismatic American anthropologist, Martiya van der Leun, has been found dead--a suicide--in the Thai prison where she was serving a life sentence for murder. Curious at first, Mischa is soon immersed in the details of her story. This brilliant, haunting novel expands into a mystery set among the Thai hill tribes, whose way of life became a battleground for the missionaries and the scientists living among them.

Fieldwork is a 2007 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:14:37 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Vivid, passionate, funny, deeply researched, and page-turningly plotted, this novel--set in northern Thailand--is a daring, spellbinding tale of anthropologists, missionaries, demon possession, sexual taboos, murder, and an obsessed young reporter named Mischa Berlinski.… (more)

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