A spellbinding tale
of anthropologists, missionaries, demon possession,
sexual taboos, murder, and an obsessed freelance journalist
living in Thailand.
Mischa Berlinski was born
in New York in 1973. He studied classics at Columbia
University and at the University of California at
Berkeley. Among other jobs, he has worked as a journalist
in Thailand. He currently lives in Jerémié,
Haiti, where his wife Cristina Iampieri works with
the UN Stabilization Mission. He has lived in France
and Italy. Fieldwork is his first novel.
Copyright © 2007
by Mischa Berlinski. Published in February 2007 by
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.
I first met Josh when I was
on vacation just out of college and backpacking through
Malaysia and Indonesia, long before Rachel and I moved
to Thailand. Josh and I were staying at the same hotel
in Penang. He was on a visa run, down from Bangkok.
Within about five minutes of spotting me in the hotel
bar, Josh had sat himself down next to me and, in
admirably direct fashion, informed me of his plans
to start a pornographic production company in Vietnam.
He had the funding, he said, contacts in the government,
and an unbelievable star. These plans, like so many
Josh O’Connor plans, eventually came to nothing,
but his account was sufficiently compelling that whenever
I’m in Bangkok, I always give him a call.
Now I was down from Chiang
Mai, writing an article for a Singaporean arts magazine
about an up-and-coming Thai sculptor, and Josh and
I agreed to meet just after sundown in front of the
Ratchawat market. I spent a long, sultry afternoon
teasing a few good quotations out of my sculptor;
then, just as the streetlights across Bangkok were
flickering on, a motorcycle taxi deposited me in front
of the 7-Eleven opposite the market, where Josh was
already waiting for me, a goofy smile on his chubby
Plastic tables packed the
narrow sidewalk. The sting of frying chili peppers
made my eyes water, and from the market, now closing
for the day, the sweet smells of jasmine, lilies,
incense, and lemongrass mingled with the smells of
rotting fish, molding durian, sweat, car exhaust,
and garbage. On the corner, two competing noodle men
served up bowls of guoy tieo in a ginger-and-coriander
sauce; a little farther down the road, the curry lady
had set up shop with huge vats of green curry and
red, a jungle curry, a panang curry, and a spicy fish
soup. A pretty girl cut up fresh mangoes and served
them over sticky rice in a coconut sauce. There was
somebody who grilled skewers of chicken over a small
open flame and which he served with a peanut sauce.
by Mischa Berlinski. Copyright © 2007 by Mischa
Berlinski. Published in February 2007 by Farrar, Straus
and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.