I’ve fallen behind on my reviews again, so please bear with me. The library dumped a lot of books on me at once which is far from a terrible problem but a bit of an issue as I attempted to tear through the lot while mainlining the final season of Orange is the New Black. I can do this.
The Far Field is the story of Shalini, a young woman from Bangalore, told across two periods of her life – her past and her present. Her past gives us her mother through her eyes and her mother’s relationship with the world around her. The woman seemed to be a force of nature, strong, demanding, and insecure enough to be bitingly cruel. One of the few people who ever got close to her was Bashir Ahmed, a door-to-door salesmen from Kashmir who spoke to her at her level while young Shalini looked adoringly on. But one day Bashir stopped coming to their home and then when Shalini was at college her mother died. And now we have Shalini at the present, convinced that if she travels to Kashmir and tracks down Bashir Ahmed, she can understand what happened to her mother.
So through the eyes of a well-to-do young woman from Bangalore, we see modern Kashmir – the people, the militants, the soldiers. Shalini’s growing understanding of the region plays out alongside flashbacks to memories of people in Bangalore and their lack of understanding of the situation. It’s fascinating, I really enjoyed this book. As giant and diverse and different from end to end as the United States is, it is still somehow so easy to forget how equally giant and diverse other countries are. The Far Field is a good hip check back into reality.
Bingo Square: Award Winner (Pushcart Prize)