A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Jan 11, 2015

693087_08Anthony Marra explores the extraordinary circumstances of war that bring both tragedy and humor, often in equal doses, in this complex tale of the Chechen wars (yes, there were two) that captures the fragmentation of war.

This riveting novel follows three main characters (Akhmed, Havana and Sonja) whose lives intertwine via compassion, coincidence and violence. The narration—omniscient, tender, and involved—bounces back and forth through time, and we see that there is no one turning point for anyone. Everyone in the novel is a refugee from war and/or family, mired in deprivation and absurdity. The choices they make—that to the characters seem like no choice at all—shape lives and dictate actions that reverberate through the novel. It’s a kaleidoscopic and masterful way to see in to war and its effects on the body and soul, the future and the past.

Marra teaches at Stanford and is a product of the Iowa Writers Workshop; he credits our local author Michele Huneven among his teachers.




Mel Malmberg is currently working on her first book of fiction; a novel about young Will Shakespeare. Find Mel on Twitter at TheDailyBard@365shakespeare.




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