A Constellation of Vital Phenomena – Anthony Marra

Posted: June 25, 2013 in general fiction, Review

a consellation of vital phenomenaIn 2004 Chechnya was in the middle of a war with Russia for independence – and control of the oil supply.

After the Russians Feds come for Dokka in the middle of the night, his 8 yr old daughter Havaa hides to escape them.  Burning his home to the ground, they take him to the Landfill – a pace people don’t come back from.  His neighbour and friend Akhmid takes her to the only person he knows who might hide her, a doctor running the nearby hospital, Sonja.

Sonja left a fiancé and brilliant job in London to return to Chechnya. She’s searching for his sister Natasha, who disappeared from Chechnya after escaping a brothel in Italy.  Akhmid, a poorly trained doctor, bargains to help Sonja in the hospital if she helps to hide Havaa.  The Russian Feds are searching for her……

The story slowly unfolds, jumping from the present day to flashbacks explaining events leading up to now.  Each chapter is marked by the year and the story is told by different characters.  Glimpses of the future for random characters were also given.  The descriptions of living in a war zone are vivid and horrific; you can see the dust from the rubble and taste the desolation in the air.  The story fits together well and you eventually see how events intertwine.

I found this book slow at first and now know more about performing amputations than I want to.  The story was well written and compelling though; I had to read more to find out why.  I’m glad I did as most of the questions I had were answered.


Supplied by Random House New Zealand

Reviewed by Jan

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