Poetry Madness
 
 

Recently Viewed clear list


Interviews | March 17, 2014

Shawn Donley: IMG Peter Stark: The Powells.com Interview



Peter StarkIt's hard to believe that 200 years ago, the Pacific Northwest was one of the most remote and isolated regions in the world. In 1810, four years... Continue »
  1. $19.59 Sale Hardcover add to wish list

spacer
Qualifying orders ship free.
$26.00
New Hardcover
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
3 Burnside Literature- A to Z
25 Local Warehouse Literature- A to Z
25 Remote Warehouse Popular Fiction- Military

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

by

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Cover

 

Awards

Staff Pick

Marra's debut novel is fantastic. His beautifully written story so eloquently expresses the intricacies of human behavior involving love and sacrifice during a brutal war. It's hands down my favorite book of the year and one you must read!
Recommended by Kim S., Powells.com

I was about halfway through A Constellation of Vital Phenomena when I started to get nervous. This is a novel so beautiful and ambitious I thought there was no way Anthony Marra, a debut author, could pull it off. But pull it off he did, right through to the very end. You'll finish this book feeling transformed. It will break your heart and give you hope.
Recommended by Shawn D., Powells.com

This is my pick for the best under-the-radar book of 2013. Life during wartime Chechnya is not easy to read about, but this novel is too beautiful to be depressing, and Marra's skilled plotting pushes you backward and forward heart-first. I cannot lie — reading this book may kill a little part of you inside, or force you to seriously wrestle with your understanding of forgiveness — but I guarantee that you will emerge stronger for it.
Recommended by Jen W., Powells.com

Synopses & Reviews

From Powells.com:

  1. Featured in Indiespensable Volume 39!
  2. Powell's subscription club offers signed first editions, exclusive content, and unique handpicked gifts.
  3. Read about this and other past installments!

Publisher Comments:

Stegner Fellow, Iowa MFA, and winner of The Atlantic's Student Writing Contest, Anthony Marra has written a brilliant debut novel that brings to life an abandoned hospital where a tough-minded doctor decides to harbor a hunted young girl, with powerful consequences.

In the final days of December 2004, in a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa hides in the woods when her father is abducted by Russian forces. Fearing for her life, she flees with their neighbor Akhmed — a failed physician — to the bombed-out hospital, where Sonja, the one remaining doctor, treats a steady stream of wounded rebels and refugees and mourns her missing sister. Over the course of five dramatic days, Akhmed and Sonja 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.

Review:

"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, New York Times bestselling author of State of Wonder and Bel Canto

Review:

"A complex debut...[Marra writes] with elegant details about the physical and emotional destruction of occupation and war." Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Review:

"[An] extraordinary first novel...Marra collapses time, sliding between 1996 and 2004 while also detailing events in a future yet to arrive, giving his searing novel an eerie, prophetic aura. All of the characters are closely tied together in ways that Marra takes his time revealing, even as he beautifully renders the way we long to connect and the lengths we will go to endure." Booklist (starred review)

Review:

"Marra's debut novel places readers in Chechnya during its decade-long conflict with Russia and offers up an authentic, heartbreaking tale of intertwining relationships during wartime....As he shifts in time through the years of the two Chechen wars, Marra confidently weaves those plots together, and several more besides, giving each character a rich backstory that intersects, often years down the line, with the others....[T]he novel's tone remains optimistic, and its characters retain vast depths of humanity (and even humor) in spite of their bleak circumstances." Library Journal (starred review)

Review:

"Affecting and harrowing....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." Kirkus

Review:

"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 author of The Orphan Master's Son

Review:

"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." T.C. Boyle, New York Times bestselling author of When the Killing's Done and The Women

Review:

"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

Review:

"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 Headmaster's Wager

About the Author

Anthony Marra is the winner of a Whiting Award, a Pushcart Prize, The Atlantic's Student Writing Contest, and the Narrative Prize, and his work was anthologized in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012. He holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is currently a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University. He has lived and studied in Eastern Europe, and now resides in Oakland, CA.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 8 comments:

Kristine Nguyen, December 30, 2013 (view all comments by Kristine Nguyen)
The subject of this book didn't sound interesting to me at all. I read an excerpt on NPR though, and thought it was well written so I gave the book a try. I am really glad I did. It is a beautiful book, well written with beautiful language. The author really sets up some powerful images and scenes without it feeling forced or contrived. I rarely recommend a book to anyone but I have recommended this book again and again.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Rachel Coker, December 18, 2013 (view all comments by Rachel Coker)
"A Constellation of Vital Phenomena," a devastating book set in war-torn Chechnya, unfolds with such finely detailed examples of brutality and tenderness that it'll take your breath away.

I came across Anthony Marra's work through "The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012," which featured one of his short stories. When I saw this novel was on the National Book Award Longlist, I knew I'd have to read it.

The book is tough to read, with difficult descriptions of torture, drug abuse and death. But there are also moments of stunning beauty as the characters reveal the shreds of humanity that war hasn't been able to take from them.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
techeditor, September 16, 2013 (view all comments by techeditor)
I think I've found the best book of 2013. It's even better than that for me.

How to adequately review A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA? The setting is Chechnya during 1993 through 2004. This is about life there through two wars with the Russians. Life is defined as "a constellation of vital phenomena." A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA is so unique that I can't do it justice. This story is more than I expected. Can anyone read this and remain unaffected?

I won my copy of this book through a TLC Book Tour on bookchickdi.blogspot.com
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(4 of 6 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 8 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780770436407
Author:
Marra, Anthony
Publisher:
Hogarth
Subject:
Literature-A to Z
Subject:
Literary
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20130507
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
400

Other books you might like

  1. Country Girl: A Memoir
    New Trade Paper $16.00
  2. Bad Monkey
    Used Hardcover $14.00
  3. The Cooked Seed: A Memoir Used Hardcover $14.00
  4. A Conspiracy of Faith Used Hardcover $9.95
  5. A Grand Complication: The Race to... Used Hardcover $17.95
  6. Hero on a Bicycle New Mass Market $11.50

Related Subjects

Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Debut Fiction
Fiction and Poetry » Popular Fiction » Military
History and Social Science » Politics » Featured Titles

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$26.00 In Stock
Product details 400 pages Hogarth - English 9780770436407 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Marra's debut novel is fantastic. His beautifully written story so eloquently expresses the intricacies of human behavior involving love and sacrifice during a brutal war. It's hands down my favorite book of the year and one you must read!

"Staff Pick" by ,

I was about halfway through A Constellation of Vital Phenomena when I started to get nervous. This is a novel so beautiful and ambitious I thought there was no way Anthony Marra, a debut author, could pull it off. But pull it off he did, right through to the very end. You'll finish this book feeling transformed. It will break your heart and give you hope.

"Staff Pick" by ,

This is my pick for the best under-the-radar book of 2013. Life during wartime Chechnya is not easy to read about, but this novel is too beautiful to be depressing, and Marra's skilled plotting pushes you backward and forward heart-first. I cannot lie — reading this book may kill a little part of you inside, or force you to seriously wrestle with your understanding of forgiveness — but I guarantee that you will emerge stronger for it.

"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "A complex debut...[Marra writes] with elegant details about the physical and emotional destruction of occupation and war."
"Review" by , "[An] extraordinary first novel...Marra collapses time, sliding between 1996 and 2004 while also detailing events in a future yet to arrive, giving his searing novel an eerie, prophetic aura. All of the characters are closely tied together in ways that Marra takes his time revealing, even as he beautifully renders the way we long to connect and the lengths we will go to endure."
"Review" by , "Marra's debut novel places readers in Chechnya during its decade-long conflict with Russia and offers up an authentic, heartbreaking tale of intertwining relationships during wartime....As he shifts in time through the years of the two Chechen wars, Marra confidently weaves those plots together, and several more besides, giving each character a rich backstory that intersects, often years down the line, with the others....[T]he novel's tone remains optimistic, and its characters retain vast depths of humanity (and even humor) in spite of their bleak circumstances."
"Review" by , "Affecting and harrowing....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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
spacer
spacer
  • back to top
Follow us on...




Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at Powells.com.