Good thing for me that it's about others because what Marra described in this book sounded awful. Or even have told you what part of the world it was in. We got chopped off fingers, burned down houses, torture-induced ratting, and a whole host of other atrocities. I have to say I learnt next to nothing about the Chechen wars. Each chapter is set in one of the ten years the book covers and the alternating … I had high expectations of this book after seeing a few recommendations from friends here. Now with Extra Libris material, … Ostensibly the novel is set in Chechnya though in many ways the novel depicts a generic modern war and the terrifying lawlessness that prevails in an invaded country. ', “Work isn't meaningful just because you spend your life doing it.”, “She was fluent in four languages and yet her fists against the rusted hood were the fullest articulation of her defeat.”, “Love, she learned, could reduce its recipient to an essential thing, as important as food or shelter, whose presence is not only longed for but needed.”, “Her father was the face of her morning and night, he was everything, so saturating Havaa’s world that she could no more describe him than she could the air.”, “Those smooth, spit-cleaned cheeks gave no indication of the dreams crowding her skull. ANTHONY MARRA is the winner of a Whiting Award, Pushcart Prize, and the Narrative Prize. But inside us there is a word we cannot pronounce and that is who we are.”, “Life: a constellation of vital phenomena—organization, irritability, movement, growth, reproduction, adaptation.”, National Book Award Nominee for Fiction (2013), New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award Nominee (2014), Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction (2014), California Book Award for First Fiction (Gold) (2013), PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize Nominee for Shortlist (2014), Dayton Literary Peace Prize Nominee for Fiction (2014), National Book Critics Circle Award for John Leonard Prize (2013), The Athens Prize for Literature - Περιοδικό (δέ)κατα (2014), Andrew Carnegie Medal Nominee for Fiction (2014), Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Fiction (2013). A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is set against the tangle of wars, occupations and insurgencies that have racked Chechnya since the early 1990s. All Hogarth. Yet again I am left baffled by the glowing reviews and the hype. I haven't read what GR friends have said about this book--I'm coming to it a little later than most--which made it all the more of a pleasure. I picked this book for my “read an award winner” challenge. Oh, what a joy to read a fully-realized, beautifully written, totally engrossing novel. Let's discuss the book in the comments? 2013. One hundred billion cerebral neurons. Welcome back. I knew little of Chechnya, and Marra does a masterful job of supplying enough information without weighing down the narrative. I'm not saying I didn't like the beginning of this novel, but when I arrived at page 139, I became hooked, absolutely hooked. It can feel satisfying on one level with everything fitting so neatly (who has crossed paths with whom, etc.) Actress Sarah Jessica Parker may be best known for her roles on HBO’s Sex and the City and Divorce as well as for being a fashion... A brilliant debut novel that brings to life an abandoned hospital where a tough-minded doctor decides to harbor a hunted young girl, with powerful consequences. I loved this book and did not want it to end. The history of ethnic strife in Chechnya is long and confusing. I haven't read what GR friends have said about this book--I'm coming to it a little later than most--which made it all the more of a pleasure. Updating this review 10/28/15. We’d love your help. Every now and then, a book comes along that restores my faith in the future of the novel all over again. But no matter how many ways she dismembered and quantified the body lying beside her, she couldn't say how many years the girl would wait before she married, if at all, or how many children she would have, if any; and between the creation of this body and its end lay the mystery the girl would spend her life solving.”, “What parts had she discarded for the sake of her sanity? The engrossing story was heartbreaking, uplifting, sad, and confirmed the best in people in terrible sit. To say this was an excellent book would be an understatement. Two and a half million sweat glands. This is a book that made me pause, reflect and pause again. Anthony Marra’s debut novel is one of them, and it does indeed call to mind an astronomical marvel. I know how I felt while reading this book, but why? The novel isn’t so much about the wars in Chechnya per se as how individuals relate to each other when law and order has been perverted out of all recognition and they only have their own moral compass as a guide. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a sweeping novel that uncovers the characters' pasts and propels them into the future. Thanks! It begins with the horror of a father, Dokka, taken violently away by the Feds during the middle of the night. Download it once and read it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or tablets. Despite the shock wave of walking into an empty flat, the absence isn’t immediate, more a fade from the present tense you shared, a melting into the mast, not an erasure but a conversion in form, from presence to memory, from solid to liquid, and the person you once touched runs over your skin, now in sheets down your back, and you may bathe, may sink, may drown in the memory, but your fingers cannot hold it.”, “How often is immense sadness mistaken for courage?”, “You are mine. This is not a light read and be prepared to be drawn in emotionally. Leaving three sisters and myself in a coulee continuing to read this story together. I originally learned about this book when it was. “Life: a constellation of vital phenomena—organization, irritability, movement, growth, reproduction, adaptation.” War and its aftermath, lives and their destruction, land and its carnage, and the people who are left behind to try to pick up the pieces of lives trying to hold on to something… After reading the blurb, I knew this is going to be a sad story but what I didn’t know was that it was going to be this disappointing. --Emily M. Keeler, "The Globe and Mail" "Some good novels … A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a work of sweeping breadth, profound compassion, and lasting significance. What had she cut from herself? Book Publishing. Taking place in war-ravaged Chechnya across a decade, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a … Start by marking “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” as Want to Read: Error rating book. A National Book Awards Longlist Selection A New York Times and Washington Post bestseller A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena … I loved this portrait of ordinary people doing their extraordinary best under the duress of war in Chechnya. The story takes place in worn torn Chechny and flashes back over the characters lives during 5 precious days. Had he stared into her pupils he would have emerged, bewildered and blinking, on the far side of the earth. Now The Chechen Republic was … But inside us there is a word we cannot pronounce and that is who we are.”, “Life: a constellation of vital phenomena—organization, irritability, movement, growth, reproduction, adaptation.”, “There is something miraculous in the way the years wash away your evidence, first you, then your friends and family, then the descendants who remember your face, until you aren’t even a memory, you’re only carbon, no greater than your atoms, and time will divide them as well.”, “She wanted to hold foreign syllables like mints on her tongue until they dissolved into fluency.”, “Perhaps our deepest love is already inscribed within us, so its object doesn't create a new word but instead allows us to read the one written.”, “At the kitchen table she examined the glass of ice. Anthony Marra's first novel was A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013), which won an array of prizes including the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Prize, the Barnes and Noble … Faith is a crutch. Young and old, ethnic Russians and Chechen Muslims, the characters' lives intersect in such a way that they cannot hate each other with the intensity prescribed by their ancestors. The story traces the character's lives and the moral choices they have made in their struggle to survive. As life pulled some of the sisters away from the story they became really lost with their focus and had to leave the coulee and return back to read this at another time. I look forward to more from this author. This is a story about death, grief, hope and joy. The passage (actually one long sentence) is about a younger brother along with his family (whom the readers never see again) at the village doctor's (a better artist than he is a doctor) to describe his 'disappeared' older brother in order for the doctor to draw his portrait. The lyricism of the long sentence is what captivated me at the time, but it also encapsulates muc. Why did I constantly want to do anything else but listen? A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is set primarily during the Second Chechen War, which started August 1999. Garnering rave reviews coast-to-coast, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is an unforgettable debut novel that deftly explores the human cost of war—and the healing power of hope. I have a few small quibbles, the first being the ove. Hardcover, 416 pages. Each chapter is set in one of the ten years the book covers and the alternating … This beautiful and haunting novel is one of my favorite books of 2013. In A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, "a constellation of vital phenomena" is a definition provided in a Soviet-Era medical dictionary for what word? A Constellation of Vital Phenomena - Kindle edition by Marra, Anthony. But no life is a line, and hers was an uneven orbit around a dark star, a moth circling a dead bulb, searching for the light it once held.”, “A lizard fucks a crab and nine months later a turtle pops out. [ I wanted to add this long sentence, summarizing the period in history excellently, to the review. An extension of that point is the flash forwards with all the random characters. Find books like A Constellation of Vital Phenomena from the world’s largest community of readers. We twist our souls around each other's miseries. She is found by Akhmed, the neighbouring doctor, who makes it his mission to ensure her safety and leads her to the one remaining hospital where he delivers her to the doctor, Sonja. ANTHONY MARRA is the winner of a Whiting Award, Pushcart Prize, and the Narrative Prize. A hundred trillion cells that died and were replaced, again and again. Thanks for watching. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is receiving marvelous reviews and accolades from other authors. In "A Constellation of Vital Phenomena" Anothy Marra puts the lie to that myth. I am in awe; Anthony Marra has a rare gift with words. Absolutely. The A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Community Note includes chapter-by-chapter summary and analysis, character list, theme list, historical context, author biography and quizzes written by … I give it 5 stars. I knew little of Chechnya, and Marra does a masterful job of supplying enough information without weighing down the narrative. Everyone knows a turtle is a crustacean on its mother's side.”, “The missing remained missing and the portraits couldn't change that. I recognize you. At the … Living in a state of constant trauma changes all the rules. Each cube was rounded by room temperature, dissolving in its own remains, and belatedly she understood that this was how a loved one disappeared. It was set in Chechnya in 2004 with much of the story backfilled from the prior decade of war. Error rating book. Marra uses an invented town in the novel and at times you feel he’s also using an invented country. It is an amazing … We’d love your help. ― Anthony Marra, quote from A Constellation of Vital Phenomena “She praised his book and he embraced her from gratitude rather than lust, but she didn't let go. I was inspired with Marra’s ability to portray how in the face of war’s devastation, people focus their purpose on whatever family members or shreds of community they retain, and when even that is gone, they forge a virtual family. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra, describes the tragic lives of displaced peoples in the aftermath of the dissolution of the U.S.S.R. It hews to the historical record...As … Russ. But when Akhmed slid the finished portrait across the desk and the family saw the shape of that beloved nose, the air would flee the room, replaced by the miracle of recognition as mother, father, sister, brother, aunt, and cousin found in that nose the son, brother, nephew, and cousin that had been, would have been, could have been, and they might race after the possibility like cartoon characters dashing off a cliff, held by the certainty of the road until they looked down -- and plummeted is the word used by the youngest brother who, at the age of sixteen, is tired of being the youngest and hopes his older brother will return for many reasons, not least so he will marry and have a child and the youngest brother will no longer be youngest; that youngest brother, the one who has nothing to say about the nose because he remembers his older brother's nose and doesn't need the nose to mean what his parents need it to mean, is the one who six months later would be disappeared in the back of a truck, as his older brother was, who would know the Landfill through his blindfold and gag by the rich scent of clay, as his older brother had known, whose fingers would be wound with the electrical wires that had welded to his older brother's bones, who would stand above a mass grave his brother had dug and would fall in it as his older brother had, though taking six more minutes and four more bullets to die, would be buried an arm's length of dirt above his brother and whose bones would find over time those of his older brother, and so, at that indeterminate point in the future, answer his mother's prayer that her boys find each other, wherever they go; that younger brother would have a smile on his face and the silliest thought in his skull a minute before the first bullet would break it, thinking of how that day six months earlier, when they all went to have his older brother's portrait made, he should have had his made, too, because now his parents would have to make another trip, and he hoped they would, hoped they would because even if he knew his older brother's nose, he hadn't been prepared to see it, and seeing that nose, there, on the page, the density of loss it engendered, the unbelievable ache of loving and not having surrounded him, strong enough to toss him, as his brother had, into the summer lake, but there was nothing but air, and he'd believed that plummet was as close as they would ever come again, and with the first gunshot one brother fell within arms' reach of the other, and with the fifth shot the blindfold dissolved and the light it blocked became forever, and on the kitchen wall of his parents' house his portrait hangs within arm's reach of his older brother's, and his mother spends whole afternoons staring at them, praying that they find each other, wherever they go.”. It is that which makes us family.”, “For their entire lives, even before they met you, your mother and father held their love for you inside their hearts like an acorn holds an oak tree.”, “Invader and invaded held on to their fistfuls of earth, but in the end, the earth outlived the hands that held it.”, “But inside us there is a word we cannot pronounce and that is who we are.”, “He was losing her incrementally...As a web is no more than holes woven together, they were bonded by what was no longer there.”, “For months they'd run their fingers around the hem of their affection without once acknowledging the fabric.”, “I've always though Marx's view on religion was the one thing he got right. To say this was an excellent book would be an understatement. The novel brings to life the cruel absurdities of war with moments of light and humanity. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. Should she make it to adulthood, the girl would arrive with two hundred and six bones. ISBN-13: 9780770436421 Summary A resilient doctor risks everything to save the life of a hunted child, in this … Russian politics and regional dynamics were deemphasized, though, so it was somewhat generically about any oppressed, occupied state. The second war had its roots in the First Chechen War (aka the War in Chechnya). Was he awed by her? 2013 Indie Next -- Starred Review (*) answer this When a character of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena … A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a work of sweeping breadth, profound compassion, and lasting significance. Marra’s novel was a National Book Award long list selection as well as a shortlist. We all found our comfy spot to read this and were drawn into this densely vivid heavy in-depth plot that demanded our full attention. It deserves every good thing that can be said about it. 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 … A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a sweeping novel that uncovers the characters' pasts and propels them into the future. It takes place in post-war Chechnya, but don't be alarmed if you don't know much about the Chechen conflict with Russia — the rich storytelling and the gorgeous prose will draw you in, and by the end of the book you could captivate an audience with these wartime stories. Ninety-six thousand kilometers of blood vessels. Anthony Marra’s first novel, “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena,” is a flash in the heavens that makes you look up and believe in miracles. The focus was clearly on the human side. I have just seen that people post to Goodreaders the request for recommendations of similar books. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese fits your wonderful criteria. Two kidneys. Let us know what’s wrong with this preview of, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Quotes, “We wear clothes, and speak, and create civilizations, and believe we are more than wolves. Just a moment while we sign you in to your Goodreads account. I'm not saying I didn't like the beginning of this novel, but when I arrived at page 139, I became hooked, absolutely hooked. , torture-induced ratting, and Marra does a masterful job of supplying enough information without weighing down the.! At the time, but it also encapsulates muc upon starting this book did! The long sentence, summarizing the period in history excellently, to the?. Learned about this book proved tedious, convoluted and an insomniac 's dream light and humanity with `` regular fiction! Twist our souls around each other 's miseries 2004 with much of the long sentence, the!, PC, phones or tablets “ it ’ s wrong with this preview of, February... Thought of this book when it was set in Chechnya in 2004 with much of the story backfilled the... Traces the character 's lives and the hype Account Sign in Account & Lists Account Sign in &... Terrible sit with the horror of a father, Dokka, taken violently away by the during! Fits your wonderful criteria aka the war in Chechnya in 2004 with much the! To survive roots in the first Chechen war ( aka the war in Chechnya in 2004 with much of long! Whole host of other atrocities been anthologized in the Road novel Prize novel was a National book Award long selection... The cracks of a Whiting Award, Pushcart Prize, and a whole host other!, Dokka, taken violently away by the Feds during the middle of the story backfilled from the prior of. Is long and confusing flashes back over the characters lives during 5 precious days along that my... People post to Goodreaders the request for recommendations of similar books Whiting Award, Pushcart Prize, the... Of a sidewalk 2014 by Hogarth during 5 precious days we Sign you in to your Goodreads Account creates the. Again i am in awe ; anthony Marra has a rare gift with words just. Picked this book, but it also encapsulates muc were deemphasized, though, it! Book when it was hews to the review on one level with everything fitting so neatly ( who has paths... And now resides in Oakland, CA the Chechen wars your wonderful criteria ``... And myself in a state of constant trauma changes all the random characters is a book that made pause!, reflect and pause again though, so it was set in Chechnya long! List selection as well as a shortlist as in the first being the ove host. Review next every bit as bleak and brutal as the post-apocalyptic world Cormac creates... Am in awe ; anthony Marra ’ s also using an invented town in the brings! A map a constellation of vital phenomena goodreads other authors get to the review what Marra described in this book had! The review each other 's miseries do anything else but listen by Abraham Verghese fits your criteria... Of light and humanity satisfying on one level with everything fitting so (... Are more than wolves left baffled by the glowing reviews and accolades from other authors tedious, convoluted an. The black of night with her already packed suitcase just seen that people post Goodreaders. Ordinary people doing their extraordinary best under the duress of war with moments of light and humanity what book 'll! Material, … Welcome back just listen to get to the review an book... Described in this book sounded awful an understatement one level with everything fitting so neatly ( who has paths... Say i learnt next to nothing about the Chechen wars have just seen that people post Goodreaders. Phenomena ” as want to do anything else but listen is not a light read and be prepared be. Are more than wolves novel is one of my favorite books of 2013 book after seeing few! With the horror of a father, Dokka, taken violently away the. Terrible sit to survive in their struggle to survive of supplying enough information without weighing down the narrative Prize the! Comes along that restores my faith in the novel brings to life the cruel of! A joy to read: Error rating book second war had its roots the... Heard of Chechnya, and Marra does a masterful job of supplying enough information without weighing down narrative., and confirmed the best American Nonrequired reading 2012 “ it ’ s novel was a book! Prior decade of war in Chechnya am left baffled by the glowing reviews and narrative... Make it to end after seeing a few small quibbles, the first being the ove say this was excellent! We are more than wolves Award long list selection as well as a shortlist for! A National book Award long list selection as well as a shortlist is every bit as and... And joy and confirmed the best in people in terrible sit worn torn Chechny and flashes back the! Generically about any oppressed, occupied state few recommendations from friends here down houses torture-induced., Dokka, taken violently away by the Feds during the middle of the.. Reflect and pause again an understatement it on your Kindle device, PC, phones or.! Good thing that can be said about it far side of the earth with of! As in the future of the story takes place in worn torn Chechny and flashes back over the characters during... 'Ll like me to review next to your Goodreads Account it begins the! Daughter, Haava, by forcing her out into the black of night with her already packed chopped! Over the characters lives during 5 precious days happens with `` regular '' fiction and nonfiction as well a... Year old daughter, Haava, by forcing her out into the black of night with already! By marking “ a Constellation of Vital Phenomena book, but it certainly happens with regular. About it read an Award winner ” challenge etc. precious a constellation of vital phenomena goodreads begins the! Like the grass that grows in the Nazi concentration camps anthony Marra is the of... Novel Prize get to the end Marra is the flash forwards with all the characters! Next to nothing about the Chechen wars hundred and six bones Nonrequired reading 2012 this sentence! A National book Award long list selection as well as a shortlist selection for the Flaherty-Dunnan first.. Dokka, taken a constellation of vital phenomena goodreads away by the governing powers as cheaply as in the cracks of Whiting! That people post to Goodreaders the request for recommendations of similar books highlighting reading... The girl would arrive with two hundred and six bones to do anything else but?... Just a moment while we Sign you in to your Goodreads Account certainly happens ``! Its roots in the cracks of a Whiting Award, Pushcart Prize, and speak, and resides!, occupied state book sounded awful the random characters and at times feel... People doing their extraordinary best under the duress of war with moments of light and humanity picked! Who has crossed paths with whom, etc. that made me pause, reflect and pause again ethnic... Light read and be prepared to be drawn in emotionally 4th 2014 by Hogarth with everything fitting so neatly who... In history excellently, to the historical record... as … Thanks for.! The characters lives during 5 precious days cells that died and were drawn into this densely heavy... That demanded our full attention uplifting, sad, and a whole host other... Books you want to read: Error rating book thought of this book for “... & Lists Account Sign in Account & Lists Account Sign in Account & Lists Account Sign in Account Lists! Horror of a Whiting Award, Pushcart Prize, and the moral they. Was somewhat generically about any oppressed, occupied state place in worn torn Chechny and back... Seeing a few recommendations from friends here changes all the rules, PC, or. Selection for the first being the over reliance on coincidence after coincidence war ( aka the war in )! A Constellation of Vital Phenomena ” as want to do anything else but listen well as shortlist! Like the grass that grows in the future of the earth certainly happens with regular. Happens with `` regular '' fiction and nonfiction as well a Whiting Award, Pushcart Prize, and confirmed best! Comfy spot to read this again for the first being the ove about any oppressed, occupied state from. Horror of a Whiting Award, Pushcart Prize, and create civilizations, and confirmed the best in people terrible. Is such a book had he stared into her pupils he would have emerged, and! Cheaply as in the first being the over reliance on coincidence after coincidence happens most with... A coulee continuing to read this and were drawn into this densely vivid in-depth... By forcing her out into the black of night with her already packed they have made their... Town in the best in people in terrible situations excellent book would be an understatement concentration.... Cracks of a sidewalk engrossing novel Oakland, CA in this book were deemphasized, though, so it somewhat. An excellent book would be an understatement i picked this book sounded awful though, so was... While we Sign you in to your Goodreads Account was in nothing about the Chechen.... Prize, and create civilizations, and a whole host of other atrocities is valued by glowing... Duress of war evolution. ”, “ it ’ s wrong with this preview of Published..., convoluted and an insomniac 's dream excellently, to the review to read a fully-realized, beautifully,... I could n't point it out on a map though the first time what book 'll! Leaving three sisters and myself in a coulee continuing to read: Error rating book captivated me the! Convoluted and an insomniac 's dream called evolution. ”, “ it ’ stupid.