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When everything else seems lost, watch out for the unexpected ties that bind us together...

*** Granta Best of Young American Novelists 2017 ***

In a snow-covered village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as her father is abducted in the middle of the night by Russian soldiers. Their life-long friend and neighbour, Akhmed, has also been watching, and when he finds Havaa he knows of only one person who might be able to help.

For tough-minded doctor Sonja Rabina, it’s just another day of trying to keep her bombed-out, abandoned hospital going. When Akhmed arrives with Havaa, asking Sonja for shelter, she has no idea who the pair are. But over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja’s world will shift on its axis, revealing the intricate pattern of connections that binds these three unlikely companions together and unexpectedly decides their fate.

'A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is simply spectacular' Ann Patchett

Reviews

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is simply spectacular. Not since Everything is Illuminated have I read a first novel so ambitious and fully realized. If this is where Anthony Marra begins his career, I can't imagine how far he will go

Ann Patchett

Storytelling of magical purity, illuminated by hope... Marra is a magnificent writer

Vanora Bennett, The Times

An extraordinary first novel... A 21st-century War and Peace

New York Times

Both heart-wrenching and uplifting, a stunning, intricately plotted, brilliantly written, tour-de-force of a novel that burns into the memory

Choice

A powerful tale... rivals anything Michael Ondaatje has written in its emotional force

John Freeman, Boston Globe

50 Best Spring Reads

Independent

A book of violence and beauty, and the undisputed arrival of a major new talent

Globe and Mail, Canada

Remarkable and breathtaking, Anthony Marra’s A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a spellbinding elegy for an overlooked land engulfed by an oft forgotten war. Set in the all-too-real Chechen conflict, Marra conjures fragile and heartfelt characters whose fates interrogate the very underpinnings of love and sacrifice

Adam Johnson, New York Times bestselling and Pulitzer Prizewinning author of The Orphan Masterâ??s Son

Powerful, convincing, beautifully realized -- it's hard to believe that A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a first novel. Anthony Marra is a writer to watch and savor

TC Boyle

Anthony Marra’s novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, is both devastating and transcendent. The story of eight people (and a nation) navigating two brutal wars, it’s a novel of loyalty and sacrifice and enduring love. You’ll finish it transformed

Maile Meloy, author of Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It

Anthony Marra’s fine debut novel reaches tenderly, unflinchingly, into the center of the Chechnyan conflict of the late 1990s. This tale has its roots in shocking brutality, and its beauty in the human redemption that can come from unaccountable human kindness. Whimsies of circumstance, fate, and the ties of family and faith serve to guide the reader and the characters through a richly layered and deeply beautiful journey

Vincent Lam, author of The Headmasterâ??s Wager

It’s hard to think of an American writer who has so convincingly transported readers into the lives of characters as geopolitically distant as the cast of Chechens whose stories Anthony Marra braids together in A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. Mr. Marra gives us no anchorage in a familiar point-of-view. Instead, he gives us the natives of a peripheral Chechen village, and makes us imagine the world that is their village so convincingly that we forget how remote it is. The novel is a wondrous machine of many moving parts, all whirring together like clockwork, gracefully guiding us backward and forward in time, events unfolding in an order that feels inevitable. His ambitions are Tolstoyan, and he brings stylistic virtuosity to the prose, giving us lyric passages saturated with intelligence and psychological insight. By the end of the novel, we love the characters and grieve with them, and rejoice with the "immense, spinning joy" that is the novel's final note.

Whiting Writers' Awards, Selection Committee

A truly impressive debut novel – undeniably grim, but ultimately uplifting – that hints at a stellar future

Herald

Anthony Marra’s impressive debut novel…much like Tolstoy’s Chechen novel, Hadji Murad, exudes an air of quiet resignation

Independent

Wonderfully lyrical… Ambitious and moving

Kate Saunders, Saga

Both heart wrenching and uplifting, a stunning, intricately plotted, brilliantly written, tour-de-force of a novel that burns into the memory

Choice

Marra is a brisk and able story-teller, and he moves deftly between a number of characters who are drawn into contact by the war… The writing is vivid throughout

New Yorker

Original, insightful

Neil Stewart, Civilian

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9780099575573

    March 3, 2014

    Vintage

    432 pages

    RRP $19.99

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook

    9781448130856

    May 16, 2013

    Vintage Digital

    432 pages

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