A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra
A Novel

77%

6 Critic Reviews

A somber, sensitive portrait of how lives fray and bind again in chaotic circumstances.
-Kirkus

Synopsis

New York Times Notable Book of the Year * Washington Post Top Ten Book of the Year

In a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night and then set fire to her home. When their lifelong neighbor Akhmed finds Havaa hiding in the forest with a strange blue suitcase, he makes a decision that will forever change their lives. He will seek refuge at the abandoned hospital where the sole remaining doctor, Sonja Rabina, treats the wounded.

For Sonja, the arrival of Akhmed and Havaa is an unwelcome surprise. Weary and overburdened, she has no desire to take on additional risk and responsibility. But over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will shift on its axis and reveal the intricate pattern of connections that weaves together the pasts of these three unlikely companions and unexpectedly decides their fate. 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.

Now with Extra Libris material, including a reader’s guide and bonus content from the author.

 

About Anthony Marra

See more books from this Author
ANTHONY MARRA is the winner of a Whiting Award, a Pushcart Prize, The Atlantic's Student Writing Contest, and the Narrative Prize, and his work was anthologized in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is currently a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He has lived and studied in Eastern Europe, and now resides in Oakland, CA.
 
Published May 7, 2013 by Hogarth. 419 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, War, Literature & Fiction, History. Fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
All: 6 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 2

NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Madison Smartt Bell on Jun 07 2013

Marra’s timeline runs from 1994 to 2004, but the larger story is much, much deeper. This novel is...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.

Read Full Review of A Constellation of Vital Phen... | See more reviews from NY Times

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Dwight Garner on May 07 2013

...“A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” is ambitious and intellectually restless. It’s humane and absurd...

Read Full Review of A Constellation of Vital Phen... | See more reviews from NY Times

NPR

Excellent
Reviewed by Meg Wolitzer on May 06 2013

Though the lives lived in this novel can seem unbearable, what Anthony Marra has done is to diligently describe them in passionate, extraordinary prose...they become not only "write-able," but also highly, deeply readable.

Read Full Review of A Constellation of Vital Phen... | See more reviews from NPR

Kirkus

Good
on Feb 18 2013

A somber, sensitive portrait of how lives fray and bind again in chaotic circumstances.

Read Full Review of A Constellation of Vital Phen... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Toronto Star

Above average
Reviewed by Emily Donaldson on Aug 09 2013

The novel’s length, scope and its author’s relative inexperience make this, by default, an “ambitious” novel. Marra clearly has what it takes to succeed in the long term, but he can’t do it by cutting out the middleman, which in this case happens to be Marra himself.

Read Full Review of A Constellation of Vital Phen... | See more reviews from Toronto Star

The Economist

Good
on Jul 06 2013

What moves “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” is less Havaa’s fate than the unfolding stories of those who orbit her...Mr Marra has drawn them so particularly they transcend the stereotypes...

Read Full Review of A Constellation of Vital Phen... | See more reviews from The Economist

Reader Rating for A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
85%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 1166 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review

Reader reviews & activity

User Review

Karen Russo 7 Aug 2013

Rated the book as 3.5 out of 5

Felicia Marie Dougherty

Felicia Marie Dougherty 19 Nov 2014

Added the book to custom list 'tyler'

Malinda Charter

Malinda Charter 22 Jul 2014

Added the book to custom list '2013 NPR'

×