A daring, spellbinding tale of anthropologists, missionaries, demon possession, sexual taboos, murder, and an obsessed young reporter named Mischa Berlinski
When his girlfriend takes a job as a schoolteacher in northern Thailand, Mischa Berlinski goes along for the ride, working as little as possible for one of Thailand's English-language newspapers. 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 fifty-year sentence for murder.
Motivated first by simple curiosity, then by deeper and more mysterious feelings, Mischa searches relentlessly to discover the details of Martiya's crime. His search leads him to the origins of modern anthropology—and into the family history of Martiya's victim, a brilliant young missionary whose grandparents left Oklahoma to preach the Word in the 1920s and never went back. Finally, Mischa's obssession takes him into the world of the Thai hill tribes, whose way of life becomes a battleground for two competing, and utterly American, ways of looking at the world.
Vivid, passionate, funny, deeply researched, and page-turningly plotted, Fieldwork is a novel about fascination and taboo—scientific, religious, and sexual. It announces an assured and captivating new voice in American fiction.
Fieldwork is a 2007 National Book Award Finalist for Fiction.
A fictional version of the author serves as the narrator of\t\t Berlinski's uneven first novel, a thriller set in Thailand. Mischa Berlinski, a\t\t reporter who's moved to northern Thailand to be with his schoolteacher\t\t girlfriend, Rachel, hears from his friend Josh about the suicide of Martiya van\t\t der Leun, an American anthropologist, in a Thai jail, where she was serving 50\t\t years for murder. As Mischa begins to investigate Martiya's life and supposed\t\t crimes, he becomes increasingly obsessed with the woman. The complications that\t\t arise have the potential to be riveting, but the chatty narrative voice takes\t\t too many irrelevant detours to build much suspense. Still, Berlinski, who has\t\t been a journalist in Thailand, vividly portrays the exotic setting and brings\t\t depth and nuance to his depictions of the Thais. Buried within the excess\t\t verbiage is a lean, interesting tale about, among many other things, the\t\t differences between modern and tribal cultures.
👎. Very disappointed. Wanted to know the motive so I finished it by skipping several pages of non-essential details. Again.....disappointed.