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Madhuri Vijay

Author of The Far Field

3+ Works 460 Members 20 Reviews 1 Favorited

About the Author

Works by Madhuri Vijay

The Far Field (2019) 455 copies

Associated Works

The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2013 (2013) — Contributor — 152 copies
The Best American Short Stories 2021 (2021) — Contributor — 124 copies

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Common Knowledge

Gender
female
Nationality
Indian
Country (for map)
India

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Reviews

Shalini is a well-meaning but self-absorbed young woman whose mother committed suicide while she was in college. Unable to work out what she wants to do with her life, she finds herself unemployed and restless and heads off to Kashmir in search of one of her mother's friends who Shalini admired as a child. She stumbles into a simmering but temporarily calm mess in which Hindus and Muslims are seemingly living at peace with each other, while government soldiers seem intent on starting trouble and having fun beating up 'militants' when they get bored. Having grown up sheltered from such things, Shalini cannot imagine that the stories she heard about violence in Kashmir might have real world counterparts or that her actions might influence the safety of the people around her. She does finally start to grow up, but maybe not fast enough to avoid causing irreparable harm.… (more)
 
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JBarringer | 18 other reviews | Dec 15, 2023 |
This book is a debut novel for Madhuri Vijay. All the elements are here for a great book - timely, moral, social and family issues in modern-day India. The book focuses on some of the political issues in the Kashmir area of northern India. The book is told through the main character, Shalini is a young woman from Bangalore. She goes on an epic adventure to the north country in an effort for her to come to terms with the tragic death of her mother. She tells herself that she is going to Kashmir to find the man who played such a big part in her and her mother's life when Shalini was young. On her journey she meets unforgettable people, and encounters first-hand the dangers and the beauty of this part of India. As she searches for her childhood memories, she finds that she is finally compelled to try to figure out the enigma of her life. Her mother was such a big part of her life, but working around her moods and swings in behaviour was difficult for a young girl whose father who, by the way, loved her and her mother, was not around much for support as he was tied up with his business. Shalini finds hidden reserves of strength in herself as she navigates the political minefield of northern India, and makes some very good friends. I think the main benefit to her was to be involved with normal family life, and to not having her world turned upside down by a bipolar mother. It is never mentioned that her mother is bipolar, but her behaviour points that out clearly. Shalini also runs into trouble on her journey, and the main reason for that is that she has no experience in dealing with a tumultuous, war-torn country, so she therefore makes some bad decisions that will affect her life. The book has all the makings of a great novel, but, at the same time, I kept feeling that there was something missing. The plot seemed to jump from here to there, and from emotion to emotion with no continuity. The ending was very unsatisfactory as well, and sort of came out of nowhere. That is why I have given the book 3 1/2 stars. I am glad that I read it as it gave me insight into a part of the world I was not familiar with, and that is why I love to read. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this book to anyone who seeks this type of immersive fiction.… (more)
½
 
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Romonko | 18 other reviews | Jan 14, 2023 |
Who do I feel sorry for? Geeta or Rami? Both girls are in unfortunate situations. Both have been dealt a crappy hand at life. This was a good short read but there subject matter was heavy.
 
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Koralis | Jul 12, 2022 |
I have extremely mixed feelings about this book, and I see that many other readers share the same reaction. One the plus side are the beautiful, detailed descriptions of the Kashmiri landscape and the struggles of the people living there. On the downside: the ending, which left me frustrated, with no sense of closure, and not particularly liking the protagonist.

The novel begins with Shalini, a 20-something living with her widowed father in Bangalore, trying to figure out her life—especially her conflicted relationship with the mother who randomly doted on and ignored her. Despite this, Shalini always felt close to her mother, in large part due to a secret in which she was forced to share. When she was a child, a Kashmiri clothes salesman appeared at the door, and for some reason, her mother took a liking to him and invited him in for tea and conversation. Bashir Ahmed told magical stories that delighted both mother and daughter, and over the years, he would return many times between his visits to see his family in Kashmir. Although Shalini never understood why, her father was never told about Bashir’s visits—until the day he answered the salesman’s knock. A kind and generous man who was intrigued by a conversations about the ongoing war in Kashmir, he invites Bashir to stay in the family guest room. This decision ultimately leads to Bashir’s sudden, final disappearance.

Years later, after her mother’s death, Shalini becomes obsessed with a desire to find Bashir, but the only clue she has to his whereabouts is the name of a district—Kishtwar—mentioned in one of his stories. Her journey begins the larger, more active, and more interesting part of the novel. As she journeys deeper into the heart of Kashmir, the lives of its people, and even Bashir’s family, she learns more about the effects of the ongoing conflicts between the militants and the Indian army. Although it starts to feel like a coming of age story, unfortunately, at least for this reader, the anticipated moment of self-realization and change never quite comes, and I found her naiveté, thoughtlessness, and selfishness rather repellant.

Still, those descriptions of Kashmir and the struggles of its people are a saving grace, leading me to give this novel four stars.
… (more)
2 vote
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Cariola | 18 other reviews | Mar 10, 2021 |

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Works
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Rating
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ISBNs
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