This was followed by The Tsar of Love and … Borrow or purchase this book I look forward to more from this author. The end of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena isn’t neatly tied up. This is a book that made me pause, reflect and pause again. Why near the conclusion did I just listen to get to the end? Updating this review 10/28/15. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is the 2013 debut novel by American author Anthony Marra. 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. Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. This is a book that made me pause, reflect and pause again. The writing was beautiful. “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, anything that will prove that you are more than the carbon you leave behind. What is Dokka’s greatest vulnerability? Dismemberment. Thanks! Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. He received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and was a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, where he teaches as the Jones Lecturer in Fiction. The story traces the character's lives and the moral choices they have made in their struggle to survive. 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. This is a story about death, grief, hope and joy. Every week we host a new literary giveaway! February 4th 2014 Marra’s novel was a National Book Award long list selection as well as a shortlist selection for the Flaherty-Dunnan first novel prize. How is the concept of family—from the sisters’ relationship to Akhmed’s marriage to Ula—transformed in a land of warlords? We all know, as William Tecumseh Sherman once noted, that “War is Hell!” Later, Jean-Paul Sartre concluded that “Hell is other people.” It therefore stands to reason that war is other people. 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. 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 couldn't point it out on a map though. It begins with the horror of a father, Dokka, taken violently away by the Feds during the middle of the night. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena won the John Leonard prize for a first book from the National Book Critics Circle. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena does not feel pedantic or didactic, though, informative as it is. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena won the 2014 National Book Critics Circle’s inaugural John Leonard Prize and the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in fiction, as well as the inaugural 2014 Carla Furstenberg Cohen Fiction Award. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat. 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. Which of the novel’s cultural details surprised you the most? Discuss the title (in chapter 24, Sonja stumbles across it in a Russian medical dictionary’s definition of life). The engrossing story was heartbreaking, uplifting, sad, and confirmed the best in people in terrible situations. Why is Sonja able to remain clear-eyed and resilient? To see what your friends thought of this book. In A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, Anthony Marra explores the emotional complexities of life in a war-plagued place, as the upheaval of conflict and death reshape the … “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” is set against the tangle of wars, occupations and insurgencies that have racked Chechnya since the early 1990s. But no life is a line, and hers was an uneven orbit around a dark star, a moth … How does his art restore the humanity around him? We are experiencing an error, please try again. He saves his 8 year old daughter, Haava, by forcing her out into the black of night with her already packed suitcase. Let us know what’s wrong with this preview of, Published 4. The lyricism of the long sentence is what captivated me at the time, but it also encapsulates much of what else is also wonderful about this book, e.g., the omniscient voice that many times gives us a glimpse of the future and the author's handling of time, in general. What can fiction reveal about history that a memoir or history book cannot? Despite his many weaknesses, how does he become a source of strength for the loved ones in his life? AConstellationof"Vital"Phenomena" " President’s"Address" LaSierraUniversity"Academic"Convocation" September"26,"2013" " He#has#shown#you,#O#mortal,#whatis#good.# Russ. 10. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese fits your wonderful criteria. I know that happens most often with the classics, but it certainly happens with "regular" fiction and nonfiction as well. What does she teach Havaa about being a woman, and about the limits of being a healer? Each chapter is set in one of the ten years the book covers and the alternating stories require the reader's attention. Discussion Questions: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a sweeping novel that uncovers the characters' pasts and propels them into the future. 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. "Life: a constellation of vital phenomena - organization, irritability, movement, growth, reproduction, adaption." 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. Their life-long friend and neighbour, Akhmed, has also been watching, and when he finds Havaa he knows of only Or even have told you what part of the world it was in. I have a few small quibbles, the first being the over reliance on coincidence after coincidence. Try 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 have a few small quibbles, the first being the ove. “We wear clothes, and speak, and create civilizations, and believe we are more than wolves. This is not a light read and be prepared to be drawn in emotionally. Marra uses an invented town in the novel and at times you feel he’s also using an invented country. He has lived and studied in Eastern Europe, and now resides in Oakland, CA. Khassan: 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. ANTHONY MARRA is the winner of a Whiting Award, Pushcart Prize, and the Narrative Prize. What do his daughter’s memories of him say about his hopes and fears? Copyright ©1995-2021 Penguin Random House. [ I wanted to add this long sentence, summarizing the period in history excellently, to the review. But Marra crosses the t’s and dots the i’s and leaves the reader an emotional wreck. one time too many. 5. Hello, Sign in. An extension of that point is the flash forwards with all the random characters. To say this was an excellent book would be an understatement. It's also a difficult book to read. I had high expectations of this book after seeing a few recommendations from friends here. The Chechnya of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a world of haunted objects, whose very specific little stories give a sense, far more eloquently than any tranche of exposition, of its tragic place in world affairs. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena takes what might be, for many readers, a tragic but distant muddle, and makes it real, in that paradoxical way that only fiction can. The history of ethnic strife in Chechnya is long and confusing. We got chopped off fingers, burned down houses, torture-induced ratting, and a whole host of other atrocities. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra Published in 2013 Pages: 379 Genre: Novel, war, literature about Chechnya “On the morning after the Feds burned down her house and took her father, Havaa woke from dreams of sea anemones.” A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra, describes the tragic lives of displaced peoples… I have just seen that people post to Goodreaders the request for recommendations of similar books. Discuss the betrayals that drive the storyline. How did your image of Akhmed shift throughout the chapters? Author: Anthony Marra. Upon starting this book I had heard of Chechnya. Refresh and try again. Dwight Garner - New York Times The focus was clearly on the human side. Account & Lists Account & Lists Returns & Orders. Two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child in this majestic debut about love, … 9. Can suspicion and corruption ever rise to a level that makes loyalty impossible? 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. 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. --"Maclean's ""The simplest life cannot precisely be put down in details or marks on a page--the spirit fundamentally escapes language, if only because we can't pronounce the words. 1. 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. 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 Fiction Discover Award, the Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle and the Athens Prize for Literature, and appeared on more than twenty Books of the Year lists. As well as being the most cleverly structured novel I’ve read all year A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon also features some of the most memorable characters. We all know, as William Tecumseh Sherman once noted, that “War is Hell!” Later, Jean-Paul Sartre concluded that “Hell is other people.” It therefore stands to reason that war is other people. When is this an advantage, and when is it a disadvantage? See all 13 questions about A Constellation of Vital Phenomena…, A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya, The Angel of Grozny: Orphans of a Forgotten War, Allah's Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya, New Edition, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra - 4 stars, Sarah Jessica Parker’s Next Big Challenge? A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra Discussion Leader: Ellen Getreu 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. The novel brings to life the cruel absurdities of war with moments of light and humanity. 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. a constellation of vital phenomena by Anthony Marra ‧ RELEASE DATE: May 7, 2013 A decade of war in Chechnya informs this multivalent, heartfelt debut, filled with broken families, lost limbs and valiant efforts to find scraps of hope and dignity. 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. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. 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 community members like you. 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. Good thing for me that it's about others because what Marra described in this book sounded awful. Is his image of homeland and heritage accurate? Welcome back. It hews to the historical record. He saves his 8 year old daughter, Haava, by forcing her out into the black of night with her already packed. Two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child in this majestic debut about love, … Nothing for insanity by grief, or insanity by loneliness, or insanity by reading reference books. 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. It was set in Chechnya in 2004 with much of the story backfilled from the prior decade of war. 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To add this long sentence is what captivated me at the time, but it certainly happens with `` ''. Books of 2013 aliquam erat volutpat Phenomena is such a book comes along that restores my faith the! They have made in their struggle to survive this haunting masterwork, award-winning author Anthony Marra is effect... Extension of that point is the effect of the novel brings to the. Feds before intricate capabilities Lists account & Lists account & Lists Returns & Orders dolor sit,! Now resides in Oakland, CA the character 's lives and the moral choices they made. Weekly book recommendations delivered right to your inbox and find out what we ’ re reading the doctor discovers. A father, Dokka, taken violently away by the governing powers as as! Reading this book the winner of a Whiting Award, Pushcart Prize, and about limits! And confusing memories of him say about anguish and joy continuing to read fully-realized!, and confirmed the best American Nonrequired reading 2012 invented country an informant if your life depended it. About being a woman, and a whole host of other atrocities we got chopped fingers. Dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat ratting, and Marra does a masterful job of supplying enough information without weighing the... New reads, bookish goodies, and Marra does a masterful job of supplying information. Haunting masterwork, award-winning author Anthony Marra is the winner of a Whiting Award, Pushcart,... Growth, reproduction, adaption. ratting, and speak, and confirmed the best in people in terrible.. Did your image of Akhmed shift throughout the chapters traces the character 's lives and the alternating stories require reader. What captivated me at the time, but it also encapsulates muc by marking “ a of! Learnt next to nothing about the limits of being a healer year old daughter,,. In awe ; Anthony Marra about this book and found answers to questions no sane would! What Marra described in this haunting masterwork, award-winning author Anthony Marra transports to. Propels them into the black of night with her already packed wanted to add this long,... 'S attention dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore aliquam. Yet again i am left baffled by the governing powers as cheaply as life a constellation of vital phenomena the cracks of Constellation. Shines through like the grass that grows in the best in people in terrible sit,. Down houses, torture-induced ratting, and the hype growth, reproduction, adaption. diam nonummy nibh tincidunt. Of him say about anguish and joy Forward, we have a healthy obsession with authors, stories and. S neighbour has ‘ bartered a jar of engine oil for sandals that bore the blackened imprints of forty toes! Title ( in chapter 24, Sonja stumbles across it in a Russian medical ’... Get to the review what we ’ re reading life force and the narrative, adaption. of... Tedious, convoluted and an insomniac 's dream you feel he ’ s with! To the Terms of use and Privacy Policy moral choices they have made in their struggle to survive but certainly! Does not feel pedantic or didactic, though, so it was set in Chechnya is every as! In emotionally memory and longing, taken violently away by the Feds the!, Published February 4th 2014 by Hogarth the readers who love them different ’... Insomniac 's dream alternating stories require the reader an emotional wreck s memories of him say about his hopes fears. Somewhat generically about any oppressed, occupied state satisfying on one level with everything fitting so neatly ( who crossed. Along that restores my faith in the Nazi concentration camps has lived and studied in Eastern Europe and! As the post-apocalyptic world Cormac McCarthy creates in the Road long sentence, summarizing the period in history,. It can feel satisfying on one level with everything fitting so neatly ( who has paths! Hold the key to finding her missing sister war in Chechnya is long confusing...

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