Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Fieldwork, a novel by Mischa Berlinski

Spencer Capier recommended this one to me and, obedient servant (to Mr Capier) that I am, I bought it quick and read it. He was right.

Here's what Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times had to say;

February 7, 2007

MISCHA Berlinski's first book, "Fieldwork," is that rare thing — an entertainingly readable novel of ideas.

Berlinski's narrative is brilliantly plotted and builds to a shattering but entirely credible conclusion. There's a particular authenticity attached to the settings and to the lives of the Dyalo, though they are a fictional people. [W]hat sets Berlinski's book apart from others like it is its utterly contemporary evocation of a compelling old dichotomy: faith and reason. Martiya, the anthropologist, speaks for that latter tradition, the missionary Walker family for the former. Both make their cases in an entirely American idiom, and it is the great strength of Berlinski's novel that he lets them do so on an intellectually level playing field on which two competing ways of understanding the world and its people contend. Berlinski, however, is too interested in both viewpoints to caricature either, and the result is a genuinely unsentimental empathy that gives his narrative its real propulsive force.

"Fieldwork" is a notable piece of first fiction — at once deeply serious about questions of consequence and refreshingly mindful of traditional storytelling conventions.

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