If you appreciated Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese and have been longing for a novel of similar power, it has arrived. Set in Chechnya, the story is haunting..
Akhmed is a good man, but good men can succumb to fear, especially when resistance is pointless. He cowers with his invalid wife in his house when Russian soldiers come for his neighbor and friend. Akhmed watches as the startling red flames claim his neighbor’s house, fearful to venture forth until he is certain the Russians will not return. Cautiously Akhmed makes his way to the smoldering ruins, searching for his neighbor’s daughter Havaa. He finds the child sitting on her suitcase at the edge of the woods.
Keeping her with him in the small village is impossible; the neighborhood informant would tell the Russians. They would return for her taking Akhmed and his wife too. He takes the child to the hospital, persuading Dr. Sonia Rabina to hide the Havaa. Like all momentous actions, this one will bear consequences.
What shines through is the quiet nobility of the characters and how they struggle to bravely do what is right even when they are afraid. The writing is beautiful, the story compelling, and the characters are so very real on the page.— Deon Stonehouse
May 2013 Indie Next List
“In A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA, Anthony Marra expertly balances the pain and suffering inflicted during the Chechen conflict with exquisite moments of loyalty, sacrifice, humility and enduring love. Marra intricately connects the lives of eight unforgettable characters in wholly unexpected ways, slowly revealing their collective past, present and future. But as their breathtaking stories compel you forward, slow down and savor the vivid imagery and lyrical prose on each and every page. Aptly named, Marra's debut is indeed phenomenal.”
— Anderson McKean, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL
Stegner Fellow, Iowa MFA, and winner of the" Atlantic"'s emerging writer contest, Anthony Marra has written a brilliant debut novel that brings to life an abandoned hospital where a tough-minded doctor decides to harbour a hunted young girl, with powerful consequences.
In the final days of December 2004, in a small rural village in Chechnya, 8-year-old Havaa hides in the woods when her father is abducted by Russian forces. Fearing for her life, she flees with their neighbour Akhmed to the bombed-out hospital, where Sonya, the one remaining doctor, treats a steady stream of wounded rebels and refugees. Over the course of 5 dramatic days, Akhmed and Sonya reach back into their pasts to unravel the intricate mystery of coincidence, betrayal and forgiveness that unexpectedly binds them and decides their fate.
With "The English Patient"'s dramatic sweep and "The Tiger's Wife"'s expert sense of place, Marra gives us a searing debut about the transcendent power of love in wartime, and how it can cause us to become greater than we ever thought possible.
About the Author
ANTHONY MARRA is currently a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, with an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He's won a Pushcart Prize, the Whiting Writers' Award, the Prairie Lights Fiction Prize and first place in the" Atlantic"'s emerging writers' contest and in "Narrative"'s short story contest.