Berlinski, Mischa 1973-
Berlinski, Mischa 1973-
Born 1973; son of David Berlinski; married. Education: University of California—Berkeley, B.A., 1998. Religion: Jewish.
Home—Rome, Italy. E-mail—[email protected]
Fieldwork (novel), Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2007.
Mischa Berlinski's first novel, Fieldwork, met with praise from many critics, not the least of whom was Stephen King, in Entertainment Weekly, who praised the novel's "exotic locale, mystery, and … narrative voice full of humor and sadness" and called it "a Russian doll of a read, filled with stories within stories." The story is narrated by a character also named Mischa Berlinski, who has followed his girlfriend to Thailand. There, his ex-pat friend Josh relates the intriguing story of Martiya, an intense American anthropologist who committed suicide in a Thai prison while serving a fifty-year sentence for murder. Mischa becomes obsessed by the woman's story and sets out to conduct his own anthropological "fieldwork" in an attempt to discover who Martiya killed and why. Eventually, Mischa's girlfriend returns to the United States, leaving him behind—now as equally obsessed by Martiya's story as Martiya was with the fourth-generation Christian missionary who threatened her life's work among the animist Dyalo people. The result, according to Kevin Greczek of Library Journal, is a novel that turns "a seemingly dull academic subject into a riveting read."
Berlinski conducted extensive research in order to create the fictional Dyalo tribe of his story, interviewing numerous missionaries who lived among the Lisu people of Thailand and scouring the archives of the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. He became interested in the dichotomy between the "normal" missionaries he had met and the "really weird" anthropologists who studied the Lisu, as he called them in an interview on his Web site. Because information about the Lisu was not sufficient enough, Berlinski created the Dyalo people, a composite of many tribes and customs to whom he could ascribe any traits he felt necessary. This "consummate fieldwork—fictional though it may be," wrote Terry Hong in the Washington Post, "produces an intricate whodunit, both disturbing and entertaining."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Believer, March, 2007, Lara Tupper, review of Fieldwork.
Booklist, November 15, 2006, Brad Hooper, review of Fieldwork, p. 23.
Entertainment Weekly, April 6, 2007, Stephen King, review of Fieldwork.
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2006, review of Fieldwork, p. 1088.
Library Journal, January 1, 2007, Kevin Greczek, review of Fieldwork, p. 86.
Los Angeles Times, February 18, 2007, Tim Rutten, review of Fieldwork.
New York Post, February 18, 2007, Gabrielle Danchick, review of Fieldwork.
Publishers Weekly, December 11, 2006, review of Fieldwork, p. 44.
San Francisco Chronicle, February 18, 2007, Kevin Smokler, review of Fieldwork.
Seattle Times, March 30, 2007, Michael Upchurch, review of Fieldwork.
Washington Post, February 28, 2007, Terry Hong, review of Fieldwork, p. C2.
Mischa Berlinski Home Page,http://berlinski.com/mischa (May 4, 2007).