Book Review – A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

This book has been reviewed and reviewed.  But, not yet by me!  Written by Anthony Marra, this book was a National Book Award nominee for fiction.  This was his debut novel and is beautifully and hauntingly written.  Set in Chechnya, during their second war, it is told skillfully across a decade.  After watching Havaa’s father, Dokka, be taken away in the night by soldiers, Akhmed and Havaa show up at the hospital where Sonja is a doctor – the only doctor – and he begs Sonja to take care of Havaa.  In exchange, Akhmed agrees to work for her.  Sonja is a bitter, cynical woman, who left a promising medical career in London to return to Chechnya to find her missing sister, Natasha.  Many more characters are introduced amongst these pages, all of them damaged and frighteningly human.  Marra’s story reveals the manner how victims of a war-torn country survive when everything around them is falling apart.  Marra is a very gifted author and his book is skillfully done.  It was a nice change of pace for me when I read it, as I had been reading Young Adult literature and horror literature.  Definitely a must read.


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