The Far Field: A Novel of Ceylon

Winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize

Selected as a Best Book of the Year by the LA Times and others

In her debut novel, Edie Meidav tells the tale of Henry Fyre Gould, a self-described anti-missionary who travels to Ceylon from the spiritualist salons of 1930s New York City. Driven by an arrogant faith in his ideals, Henry settles in the village of Rajottama, intent on establishing a model society built on the lost truths of Buddhism. Instead of a utopian village, he slowly finds a tinderbox of caste struggle, political rebellion, espionage, and erotic intrigue. In the tradition of Michael Ondaatje, Barbara Kingsolver, and Joseph Conrad, Meidav grapples with the consequences of the West's fascination with the East and explores the nature of faith and love.

Press and Reviews

"Edie Meidav is a student of human bewilderment. In her first novel — about an American called Henry Gould trying to establish a utopian community in the British colony of Ceylon — she's woven the blundering figure of a holy fool into a bristling tapestry of local life. The Far Field is historical fiction without a shred of nostalgia, and its plot is justified by Meidav's scarifying emotional honesty and visceral sense of place . . . But while Meidav's lens is panoramic, she manages to keep her focus human in scale, providing her readers with a virtual novelistic treatise on the colonial experience, articulated in the accumulated tiny, believable details of her characters' daily lives."
-- Jacob Benfer, The Village Voice

"Before civil war-torn Sri Lanka became Sri Lanka, it was the British colony of Ceylon, and on this island off the coast of India, Meidav focuses the ferocious, prodigious energies of her sprawling debut novel, a work that has been justly compared to the fiction of Ondaatje and Kingsolver . . .In rugged, cadenced prose, Meidav delineates both the inevitability of human solitariness and the longing for the exoticism of the other. As in Peter Matthiessen's AT PLAY IN THE FIELDS OF THE LORD, the novel skewers the cool superiority of the hubristic colonizing mentality . . .Meidav succeeds on two levels, illuminating a rarely glimpsed culture and examining the tragic fallout of culture clash."
-- Starred review in Publisher's Weekly

"It’s rare to find an embodiment of the proverbial quest for authenticity as perfectly realized as it is in Henry Fyre Gould. He’s the naïve, sympathetic former fraud inspector and spiritual leader who, armed with nothing more than a great wad of cash and some grandiose expectations, sets sail for Ceylon at the start of Edie Meidav’s rich, roiling first novel, THE FAR FIELD...In creating a fictional world as complex and all-consuming as Ceylon itself, Meidav has isolated and illuminated a place at which we all find ourselves occasionally: the muddled intersection of beauty and elusive truth. That she navigates it so well is perhaps her greatest achievement."
-- Melanie Rehak, Newsday