Monday, March 7, 2011

fieldwork by mischa berlinski


National Book Award finalist Mischa Berlinski's first novel reminded me of those rare non-fiction books that read like fiction, but with a twist: his book is fiction but reads like a memoir. The central character, free-lance and sometimes employed writer Mischa Berlinski, goes along for the ride when his girlfriend, Rachel, accepts a job as a first grade teacher in northern Thailand. Mischa stumbles upon a story about an intriguing American anthropoligist, Martiya, who has just committed suicide while serving a 50-year sentence for murder in a Thai prison. Mischa becomes a bit obsédé with Martiya's story, and when he meets the victim's family, a group of missionaries from Oklahoma who have lived in the area since the 1920s, the plot only thickens. A complex, well-researched, and sometimes funny book that will leave you comparing anthropologists to missionaries and thinking of Star Wars. Click here for the Believer review. Grade 10+