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Publisher's Summary

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 50-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 obsession 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 exhilarating, Fieldwork is a novel about fascination and taboos - scientific, religious, and sexual. It announces an assured and captivating new voice in American fiction.
©2007 Mischa Berlinski (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
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Critic Reviews

"A lean, interesting tale." (Publishers Weekly)
"A surprisingly compassionate look at Christianity in conflict with anthropology. I kept expecting tirades, and instead got sweetness and thoughtful good humor. A remarkable novel." (Stephen King)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Lee on 05-02-07


I was an anthro student at the same time at the subject of this novel while in California, though not at Berkeley. This is one of the best descriptions of my experience and what it is to think and be an Anthropologist I have EVER heard. This novel is brilliantly observed and worth every second. WOW. It is also nostalgic and incredible that the students at Berkeley and the students and faculty at my university had identical experiences. What a wonderful wonderul book.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Rebecca on 03-08-07

An experience!

I found this work delightful, and the narrator greatly added to the experience. His droll tone and varied styles accentuated the humor, which often popped up unexpectedly. This account of a young journalist's obsession with getting to the bottom of an old murder is peopled with the most extraordinary people. A missionary family figures largely in the tale and I liked the sympathetic handling of them. They could have been made to seem ridiculous or even contemptible, but they are shown as sympathetic, sincere people. It is left to the reader to decide whether they were misguided. I found myself thinking about the characters several days afterward. My understanding is that it's completely fictional--there are no Dialo people--but the descriptions of China and Thailand are interesting and based on fact.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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