Disappearing Earth is a finely constructed novel set in the remote Kamchatka Peninsula, an arresting landscape of active volcanoes and unspoiled wilderness in the far eastern edge of Russia. Julia Phillips masterfully unfurls the story of two sisters who vanish and the tensions between socioeconomic communities that come to light during the desperate search to find the girls. A stunning book so well written, it’s hard to believe this is Phillips’s debut work. Recommended By Mary S., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
National Best Seller
Spellbinding, moving — evoking a fascinating region on the other side of the world — this suspenseful and haunting story announces the debut of a profoundly gifted writer.
One August afternoon, on the shoreline of the Kamchatka peninsula at the northeastern edge of Russia, two girls — sisters, eight and eleven — go missing. In the ensuing weeks, then months, the police investigation turns up nothing. Echoes of the disappearance reverberate across a tightly woven community, with the fear and loss felt most deeply among its women.
Taking us through a year in Kamchatka, Disappearing Earth enters with astonishing emotional acuity the worlds of a cast of richly drawn characters, all connected by the crime: a witness, a neighbor, a detective, a mother. We are transported to vistas of rugged beauty — densely wooded forests, open expanses of tundra, soaring volcanoes, and the glassy seas that border Japan and Alaska — and into a region as complex as it is alluring, where social and ethnic tensions have long simmered, and where outsiders are often the first to be accused.
In a story as propulsive as it is emotionally engaging, and through a young writer's virtuosic feat of empathy and imagination, this powerful novel brings us to a new understanding of the intricate bonds of family and community, in a Russia unlike any we have seen before.
“Julia Phillips is at once a careful cartographer and gorgeous storyteller. Written with passion and patience, this is the story of a people and the land that shapes them. A mystery of two missing girls burns at the center of this astonishing debut, and the complexity of ethnicity, gender, hearth and kin illuminates this question and many more.” Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage
"This exquisite debut reads like a secret being whispered to your ears only. Julia Phillips so smoothly evokes the quiet rage, breathtaking tenderness and searing discomfort of a human connection." Suki Kim, author of Without You, There is No Us
"Cinematic. . . a knock-out novel that combines literary heft with a propulsive plot. . . Phillips imagines a cold, desolate climate inhabited by characters who exude warmth and strength. . . Dazzlingly original." Sally Bissell, Library Journal (Starred Review)
“I cannot speak too highly of Julia Phillips’s thrilling, impeccably written and splendidly imagined story, set with rigorous attention to detail in one of the most volcanically dangerous and beautifully remote corners of the planet. An exciting beginning from an author whose literary future looks set to be stellar.” Simon Winchester
About the Author
Julia Phillips is a Fulbright fellow whose writing has appeared in Glimmer Train, The Atlantic, Slate, and The Moscow Times. She lives in Brooklyn.