If you haven’t finished Fieldwork: a novel by Mischa Berlinski and you do not want to know what happens, do not read this post :). Bookmark it, save it, come back to it. But we are going to discuss why Martiya murdered the person she did and I’m trying to give you enough time to stop reading before you read something you don’t want to read.
We’ve had two rich discussions on Fieldwork or related themes. The first was about working with other expats and the second on the majority of the book (up until just before the ending). We touched on pacing, characters, TCKs, Christianese, how haunting the book is and implied improprieties. Whew! There’s a lot going on. Thanks for the discussions. This is what I love about book groups, you all see and wonder about things I miss or read too quickly or forgot, but by slowing down, circling back and chatting with you, I’m all the better for it and I hope you are too!
Even with peripheral vision, this should be far enough down that we can get into the ending without spoiling it for others. If you’re still reading now and you don’t want to know the ending, well, TOUGH :).
OK, so now we know why and how Martiya murdered David. If only it were so simple, right?
- The scene where Martiya visits Norma, to use a word from last weeks discussion, haunts me. I understand why Norma might have wanted to respond as she did, but what a missed opportunity — not that she, Norma, could have been the one to have the conversation, I get that. Do you think Martiya was truly seeking spiritual truth? Or was it more of a desperate seeking of connection with humanity, not God? How might it have been different if any other Walker answered the door that night?
- Were you surprised that Martiya left David laying in the ravine for such a long time? Why go back and shoot him? How would it have impacted your impressions if he had died instantly?
- As two entities who had long-term investment, what are lessons we can learn from the interactions between the Walkers and Martiya? How has this book challenged you and your work?
- Did you see the ending coming? Of course we knew of the murder from the beginning of the book, but how well did Berlinski (the author) do in building suspense in your opinion?
- And the questions from a discussion guide I’m going to use: Do you see any similarities between Mischa’s relationship with Rachel, their life together in Thailand, and Martiya’s relationship to the Dyalo and their village?
- (from the guide) Do you see Martiya’s conversion to a belief in Rice, her investment in the mystical elements of Dyalo life, as a conversion, a rational decision, or a departure from sanity? Do you think she went crazy, or just went native?
Even if you haven’t read the book, come back and read through the comments, we have some real thinkers here! Of which I’m the least, but every group needs those of us who show up for the pastries since we don’t like to cook :). Your words give me much to munch on through the week and I find my thoughts returning to our conversations.
Next week in our final discussion of Fieldwork we will spend some in depth time looking at the role the beliefs of the local people had on their work. Be thinking ahead of the beliefs the local people you work with have and how that impacts your work.
On to the comments! If you’re so inspired, make some of Ashley’s chai first and then share your voice!