In Madhuri Vijay's 'The Far Field' a young woman named Kalyani explores the fraught and tender relationship between herself and her mother, and the roots of a tragedy. This debut novel is astonishing in its ambition and in how it succeeds.
Following her mother's death, Kalyani leaves her privileged life in Bangalore for Kashmir, still scarred from the insurgencies of the 1980s and 90s. She seeks to find the man who was her mother's only friend. Her quest, and its consequences, matched with lucid prose makes for an engrossing and accomplished novel.
Kalyani is a young woman with little experience of the outside world, her circle at home, in college, and her stunted professional life, was limited by class and the trappings of a comfortable existence. Her mother was the only one who ever seemed to buck convention, and it was her that she lost the most touch with as she grew older.
The novel is told from the future, a world-weary and wiser Kalyani recalling her role in the events of the past. This tone lends the whole book weight as the reader follows this seemingly innocent quest of finding a missing person.
There are many fantastic books coming out this season, but this has become my favorite.