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From Barnes & NobleBarnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers
Berlinski's mesmerizing first novel blurs the line between fact and fiction. A young American couple living the expatriate life in Thailand, Mischa and Rachel struggle to keep one step ahead of insolvency. Rachel works as a first-grade teacher; Mischa is a freelance journalist. When they meet up with a bibulous fellow expat who regales Mischa with the tale of a mysterious California anthropologist -- Martiya van der Leun, who recently committed suicide while serving out a prison term for murder -- the plot takes an ominous turn.
Unable to get Martiya's story out of his head, Mischa digs up some of her work, which is brilliant, and becomes obsessed with telling her story. As a field worker with the remote Dyalo tribe, Martiya lived among her subjects, adopting their ways and falling deeply in love with a Dyalo man. As it turns out, the murder victim was also a Dyalo expert, albeit with a very different mission.
Mischa's fascination with Martiya takes him from the halls of academia in Berkeley to the hill tribes of Thailand, vividly recounting the mores, taboos, and religious and sexual rites of both worlds, as well as Martiya's increasingly desperate attempts to reconcile them. A beautiful and credible craftsman, Berlinski is a sublime writer who has woven a complex plot with a diverse cast into an exceptional novel of wit, charm, and real intelligence. (Spring 2007 Selection)