: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel (): Anthony Marra: Books. : A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel (Audible Audio Edition): Anthony Marra, Colette Whitaker, Random House Audio: Books. by Anthony Marra (Hogarth) A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Marra is a brisk and able storyteller, and he moves deftly between a.

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When I first read about this book, I found it eerie that its release date was so soon — less than a month — after the Boston Marathon bombing, which was orchestrated by two self-identified Chechen brothers.

Orphans of a Forgotten Warmafra Allah’s Mountains: Sonja is the sole doctor running this hospital, taking care of ill. Once in a while Marra broadcasts his character’s intentions a little too directly. The moment Akhmed walks into the hospital with Havaa…rivals anything Michael Ondaatje has written in its emotional force….

The title comes from a description of life in a medical book: I’m not saying I didn’t like the beginning of this novel, but when I arrived at pageI became hooked, absolutely hooked. Sonja comes with her own set of issues, most notably her sister, Natasha, who has continuously disappeared and reappeared in Sonja’s cinstellation, but has been missing for some time. Anthony Marra bypasses the facts and figures and takes us directly into the lives of ordinary people trying to make a phenomfna existence amid the rubble and death and ongoing violence.

The author moves backwards and forwards in time, but always tells you exactly where you are at the beginning of every chapter, which starts from a timeline listing the years from The engrossing story was heartbreaking, uplifting, sad, and confirmed the best in people in terrible situations.

But Sonja and Akhmed forge a reluctant partnership, one which opens both of their eyes to the surprising connections that tie them together.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

View all 34 comments. Ron Charles already said it all in his review of the book for the Washington Post. I started off lost in a coulee reading A Constellation of Vital Phenomena with seven of my Traveling Sisters and some of us really got lost in this story. Driving this intense tragedy is an ordinary man, Ramzan, a young neighbor who was poisoned by pain, driven to accept his role as village rat.


Other readers have pointed out moments of humor to me, and while I wasn’t ready to see them as funny while reading, they did have a balance, a humanity, that the senseless violence really needed. Are there more surprisingly good moments than there are expectedly Shiny-Brite ones? For a young American writer to choose Chechnya as the subject for a first novel shows commendable ambition, and for the most part he gets away with it.

At the risk of raising your expectations too high, I have to say you simply must read this book. The narration by Colette Whitaker was not to my taste either. At the beginning of the book, as I was introduced to day-to-day life in Chechnya, I kept nervously referring to Wikipedia pages, thinking that if I understood the complex history of the region, and was fortified by details of the first and second Chechen wars and the role of Stalin at the root of all this, among other things, that I would be better prepared for what was to come.

Our main characters, a village doctor Akhmed and another doctor who runs the hospital on her own as Sonja tries to hide her and protect her after her father is abducted by Russian soldiers.

Open Preview See a Problem? This is a book that made me pause, reflect and pause again. As someone whose days were defined by the ten thousand ways a human can hurt, she needed, now and then, to remember that the nervous system didn’t exist exclusively to feel pain.

But despite everything, people here keep living their lives in that Samuel Beckett-y, “I can’t go on, I’ll go on” way. View all 21 comments. These characters are paired up — a father and a daughter, two sisters, a father and a son and a husband and wife. Havaa ran into the woods to hide, which is why the soldiers didn’t find her. Most of the story takes place in a few days inwith flashbacks t I loved this portrait of ordinary people doing their extraordinary best under the duress of war in Chechnya.

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. I do have some reservations. For Sonja, the arrival of Akhmed and Havaa is an unwelcome surprise.


But the one I kept returning to, the best reason to read this novel, is that this story reminds us how senseless killing often wrenches kindness through extreme circumstances. Marra is a fabulous storyteller. Marra does this in spades. While I didn’t quite love this as much as I loved Marra’s second book The Tsar of Love and TechnoI still think it is an exceptional novel with unbelievable depth to it.

The history of ethnic strife in Chechnya is long and confusing. Akhmed, Khassan, Ramzan 5 ever so tragically poignant stars My reviews can be found here: I admire Marra so much for trying and often succeeding that I have to forgive him for flying too close to the sun sometimes.

For all that, there is a powerful human story at the centre of the book and it manages to maintain a degree of hope, and the narrative is never less than readable. We wear clothes and speak, and create civilizations, and believe we are more than wolves. I look forward to seeing more of his work.

This is historical fiction at its finest. And whenever I see the name Sonja with a “j”I’ll think of one of the characters in this book. The two main characters are doctors.

Book Review: ‘A Constellation of Vital Phenomena’ By Anthony Marra| A Broken Landscape : NPR

Constellation immerses one in the East—at no time does one imagine oneself to be anywhere but in that place east of Europe and west of the Caspian. 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 lyrical prose in this book was outstanding.

The novel primarily takes place throughout a snthony — from to — and a line graph at the top of each chapter centers the reader in the timeline.