The Far Field
A Novel of Ceylon
By Edie Meidav
(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Hardcover, 9780618013661, 592pp.)
Publication Date: April 2001
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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In the tradition of Conrad, Kingsolver, and Ondaatje, Edie Meidav weaves from the tragedy of colonialism an epic first novel of stirring intensity. It's 1936, the world is sliding into war, and Henry Fyre Gould has left behind the salons of New York City for the British colony of Ceylon, the tear-shaped island off the coast of India. Driven by an arrogant faith in his ideals and convinced of his heroic destiny, he storms into the village of Rajottama, determined to build a model Buddhist society.
Grand and intimate, witty and poignant, THE FAR FIELD is the story of Henry's education and transformation. He lands in a village that buzzes with colorful eccentrics: a mysterious sugar-voiced boy, Johnny, who serves as his aide; the Buddhist monk with a taste for potted ham; Pushpa Pilima, the sharp-tongued aristocrat and rebel. There is also Nani, Henry's beautiful and enigmatic maid, a center of controversy in the village and the object of the dreamer's infatuation. Expecting to win the people's hearts with his various projects, Henry instead slowly begins to unravel. He discovers that his spiritual utopia is a tinderbox of conflict and suspicion, and his dangerous obsession and meddling plans finally strain tensions to the point of disaster, sending Henry on a hallucinatory journey toward salvation.
Fusing brave eloquence and sly humor, Meidav grapples with the consequences of the West's fascination with the East and explores the nature of faith and love. THE FAR FIELD, a singular work of sweeping imaginative power, introduces an original and important new voice in fiction.
EDIE MEIDAV was born in Toronto. She studied writing at Yale University and Mills College, taught fiction at the New School for Social Research in New York City, and has spent much of her life traveling and living in other countries. In 2000, Meidav was selected by the editors of the Voice Literary Supplement as one of their "Writers on the Verge."
"[Meidav's] sprawling debut novel... has been justly compared to the fiction of Ondaatje and Kingsolver" Publishers Weekly, Starred
"A richly detailed and lyrical epic that reads like Joseph Conrad crossed with Michael Ondaatje." Harper's Bazaar
"It's the high-voltage prose and thematic intensity...that set the novel apart from the crowd."-- Voice Literary Supplement, "Writers on the Verge" The Village Voice
"Edie Meidav writes with Melvillean exuberance, and dramatically conjures an extraordinary and unfamiliar world... A remarkable first novel." --Claire Messud
"Luminous, perceptive...language that strikes us with its originality....An ambitious and distinguished first novel."-- Chitra Divakaruni The Los Angeles Times
"[A] rich, roiling first novel...Meidav has isolated and illuminated...the muddled intersection of beauty and elusive truth."-- Melanie Rehak Newsday
"Sophisticated... beautiful...ambitious, capacious and a good deal of fun."-- Emily Barton The San Francisco Chronicle
"We're in the midst of a golden age of ambitious first novels. And yet this one still stands out."-- Talk
"Meidav's huge panorama of Ceylon is not only stylish, but reveals a rare intensity of imagination."-- Paul West
"Brilliant, dazzling, spraying light far and wide. Meidav's first novel is a rare and precious treasure."-- Martha McPhee
"...illuminates the roots of the seemingly endless ethnic strife in modern-day Sri Lanka" Library Journal
Ambitious and imaginative first novel.
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