Set in Chechnya during its recent, brutal civil war, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena begins with a disappearance: a man is forced into the back of a truck and taken away, his house burned behind him. His young daughter escapes with only a blue suitcase and is soon spirited away by her father’s friend to a city hospital, where he hopes the brusque, overworked hospital workers will protect her.
“They reminisced about Dokka’s arrival in the village. He had presumed the village had its own newspaper, a presumption some took as evidence of insanity. He had brought more boxes of books with him than there was floor space in his rented room, and rather than discard the precious tomes, he had turned them into furniture. He slept on a mattress raised on book boxes, and sat at a desk made of an old door laid across pillars of science manuals. It didn’t help his standing among those already questioning his sanity.”
Anthony Marra currently teaches at Stanford University. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is his first novel; his short story collection The Tsar of Love and Techno will be published in Fall 2015.
Length: 364 pages
Set in: Chechen Republic
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