A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel (Paperback)

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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel By Anthony Marra Cover Image

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel (Paperback)


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May 2013 Indie Next List

“In A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA, Anthony Marra expertly balances the pain and suffering inflicted during the Chechen conflict with exquisite moments of loyalty, sacrifice, humility and enduring love. Marra intricately connects the lives of eight unforgettable characters in wholly unexpected ways, slowly revealing their collective past, present and future. But as their breathtaking stories compel you forward, slow down and savor the vivid imagery and lyrical prose on each and every page. Aptly named, Marra's debut is indeed phenomenal.”
— Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD • A searing debut about the transcendent power of love in wartime, hailed as “an absolute masterpiece” (Sarah Jessica Parker, Entertainment Weekly)—from the renowned author of Mercury Pictures Presents
“Extraordinary . . . a twenty-first century War and Peace.”—The New York Times Book Review


In the final days of December 2004, in a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa hides in the woods when her father is abducted by Russian forces. Fearing for her life, she flees with their neighbor Akhmed—a failed physician—to the bombed-out hospital, where Sonja, the one remaining doctor, treats a steady stream of wounded rebels and refugees and mourns her missing sister. Over the course of five dramatic days, Akhmed and Sonja reach back into their pasts to unravel the intricate mystery of coincidence, betrayal, and forgiveness that unexpectedly binds them and decides their fate.
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: The New York Times Book Review, Chicago Tribune, NPR, Kansas City Star, San Francisco Chronicle, The Christian Science Monitor, Cleveland Plain Dealer, Kirkus Reviews
ANTHONY MARRA is the author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013), which won the National Book Critics Circle’s inaugural John Leonard Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in fiction, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, and appeared on over twenty year-end lists. Marra’s novel was a National Book Award long list selection as well as a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize and France’s Prix Medicis. He received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, where he teaches as the Jones Lecturer in Fiction. He has lived and studied in Eastern Europe, and now resides in Oakland, California. His story collection, The Tsar of Love and Techno, is forthcoming from Hogarth (Fall 2015). Visit http://anthonymarra.net/
Product Details ISBN: 9780770436421
ISBN-10: 0770436420
Publisher: Hogarth
Publication Date: February 4th, 2014
Pages: 416
Language: English
“A flash in the heavens that makes you look up and believe in miracles. . . . Here, in fresh, graceful prose, is a profound story that dares to be as tender as it is ghastly, a story about desperate lives in a remote land that will quickly seem impossibly close and important. . . . I haven’t been so overwhelmed by a novel in years. At the risk of raising your expectations too high, I have to say you simply must read this book.”—Ron Charles, Washington Post

“Over and over again, this is an examination of the ways in which many broken pieces come together to make a new whole. In exquisite imagery, Marra tends carefully to the twisted strands of grace and tragedy. . . . Everything in A Constellation of Vital Phenomena . . . is dignified with a hoping, aching heartbeat.”—Ramona Ausubel, San Francisco Chronicle
“Marra is a brisk and able storyteller, and he moves deftly between a number of characters who are drawn into contact by the war. . . . The writing is vivid throughout.”The New Yorker
“Amazing . . . brilliant . . . one of the most accomplished and affecting books I’ve read in a very long time.”—Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings, for NPR

“A powerful tale . . . rivals anything Michael Ondaatje has written in its emotional force. . . . There are many reasons to read A Constellation of Vital Phenomena . . . to marvel at the lack of fear in a writer so young. To read a book that can bring tears to your eyes and force laughter from your lungs. . . . But the one I kept returning to, the best reason to read this novel, is that this story reminds us how senseless killing often wrenches kindness through extreme circumstances.”—John Freeman, Boston Globe

“Many people can write beautifully, but few manage to create a whole that is more valuable than the sum of its parts. Marra does this in spades. It is a brilliant book.”—Ann Patchett, New York Times bestselling author of State of Wonder
 “The most moving book I’ve read in years . . . A timeless tragedy about the victims of war.”Washingtonian

“With remarkable pathos and a surprising amount of humor, Marra keeps the focus on the relationships, struggles, and tiny triumphs of an unforgettable group of characters. . . . Marra creates a specific and riveting world around his characters, expertly revealing the unexpected connections among them. . . . This novel, full of humanity and hope, ultimately leaves you uplifted. Constellation deserves to be on the short list for every major award. It’s an absolute masterpiece.”—Sarah Jessica Parker for Entertainment Weekly

“Marra is not looking to explain the inexplicable. He’s not laying out politics, his book does not run on fear or horror. He is, in capturing the experiences that form lives, telling what feels like a very real story set in Chechnya.”Denver Post

“Marra is trying to capture some essence of the lives of men and women caught in the pincers of a brutal, decade-long war, and at this he succeeds beautifully. . . . His storytelling impulses are fed by wellsprings of generosity. . . . [The] ending is almost certain to leave you choked up and, briefly at least, transformed by tenderness.”—Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

“Excellent . . . [A] grave, complex, elegant exploration of how war and occupation warp the human psyche.”New York magazine