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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013)

by Anthony Marra

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,0061545,750 (4.26)315
In a rural village in December 2004 Chechnya, a failed doctor Akhmed harbors the traumatized 8-year-old daughter of a father abducted by Russian forces and treats a series of wounded rebels and refugees while exploring the shared past that binds him to the child.
Recently added byCindyB, Arina40, savannahrose16, private library, MenloPark, rachelreading
  1. 20
    The Ministry of Special Cases by Nathan Englander (boo-radley)
  2. 10
    The Angel of Grozny by Åsne Seierstad (gust)
    gust: Marra liet zich naar eigen zeggen door dit journalistieke boekwerk inspireren.
  3. 10
    The Oath: A Surgeon Under Fire by Khassan Baiev (gust)
    gust: Marra baseerde een van zijn hoofdpersonages op deze autobiografie.
  4. 00
    The Orphan Master's Son by Adam Johnson (sturlington)
  5. 00
    The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy (BookshelfMonstrosity)

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» See also 315 mentions

English (151)  Piratical (1)  Italian (1)  All languages (153)
Showing 1-5 of 151 (next | show all)
4.5 stars ( )
  snakes6 | Aug 25, 2020 |
The best book I read all year! It might have said this on the back, but it really was like Jonathan Safran Foer meets Tolstoy. So compassionate and detailed with quirky touches, with a strong plot and engaging structure, too. It illuminates a part of the world I know I didn't know anything about, making it human rather than pitiable. I think it said this on the back too, haha, but it truly did make me laugh out loud and cry. Amazing book. ( )
1 vote nancyjean19 | Jun 3, 2020 |
This was a re-read for me, which I rarely do. I first read the book in 2016 and remembered it as one of the best books I had ever read. I'll admit that when I cracked it open this time around, I didn't really remember the story but was immediately engrossed in it again. After reading it again, it remains one of my favorites and I will definitely continue recommending it. ( )
1 vote mplantenga11 | Apr 21, 2020 |
A harrowing story of people dealing with the war, terror, and the collapse of civilization. A few bright spots are swamped by a sea of miseries. The character studies are very well done. ( )
  snash | Apr 16, 2020 |
A very impressive story. One I stumbled upon and thought sounded interesting. Aling the life stories of Sonya, Natasha, Ahmed, Havaa, Khasim a horrific tale of war, betrayal, loss, survival is told.
I listened to the book, which probably made the impression even bigger than when 'just reading' it. I think the form (jumping between years) does the story justice, makes it come to life more then a chronological way of telling would have.

It made me curious to find out more about Chechnya, before the wars, when life was still more or less good. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Aug 4, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 151 (next | show all)
This novel is, among other things, a meditation on the use and abuse of history, and an inquiry into the extent to which acts of memory may also constitute acts of survival.

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Marra, Anthonyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blumenbach, UlrichÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jacobs, StefanieÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Prandino, LauraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It was of this death that I was reminded by the crushed thistle in the midst of the plowed field.

-Leo Tolstoy, Hadji Murad
To my parents and sister
First words
On the morning after the Feds burned down her house and took her father, Havaa woke from dreams of sea anemones.
She was harder to pin down than the last pickle in the jar.
Life: a constellation of vital phenomena---organization, irritability, movement, growth, reproduction, adaptation.
“A lizard fucks a crab and nine months later a turtle pops out. It’s called evolution.”  (Abu’s brother - p. 108)
“And where are the books I asked for?”
“...A third cousin in the West is asking for them from Amazon.”
“What’s that?”
“I haven’t any idea.”
“Then in London you will be an au pair. Do you know what that is? It’s a French word. It means you will watch the children while the parents are at work.”

“So I will be a grandmother?” (p. 196)
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In a rural village in December 2004 Chechnya, a failed doctor Akhmed harbors the traumatized 8-year-old daughter of a father abducted by Russian forces and treats a series of wounded rebels and refugees while exploring the shared past that binds him to the child.

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