A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Author(s): Anthony Marra

Contemporary Fiction | Barack Obama's Favourite Books

Longlisted for the National Book Award 2013

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


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

Winner of Barnes Noble Discover New Writers Awards - Fiction 2014. Shortlisted for PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize 2014. Long-listed for IMPAC Dublin Literary Award 2015.

"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

Anthony Marra was born in Washington, D.C. During his university years he spent a summer working as a night porter and doorman at a five-star hotel in Edinburgh, and from there moved eastward, studying first in Prague and then in St. Petersburg. He was one of the first foreign tourists to visit the post-war republic of Chechnya, and was interviewed on three Chechen television programmes as a result. He has an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. In October 2012, he received the Whiting Writers' Award, presented annually to emerging writers of exceptional talent, whose previous recipients include Jonathan Franzen, Tony Kushner, David Foster Wallace, Jeffrey Eugenides and Michael Cunningham.

General Fields

  • : 9780099575573
  • : Penguin Random House
  • : Vintage
  • : 0.297
  • : December 2013
  • : 198mm X 129mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : March 2014
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : 420
  • : Paperback
  • : Anthony Marra