Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. “We wear clothes, and speak, and create civilizations, and believe we are more than wolves. Discussion Questions: A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is ambitious and intellectually restless. A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a work of sweeping breadth, profound compassion, and lasting significance. Two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child in this majestic debut about love, … It was set in Chechnya in 2004 with much of the story backfilled from the prior decade of war. The story traces the character's lives and the moral choices they have made in their struggle to survive. The writing was beautiful. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena won the 2014 National Book Critics Circle’s inaugural John Leonard Prize and the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in fiction, as well as the inaugural 2014 Carla Furstenberg Cohen Fiction Award. The passage (actually one long sentence) is about a younger brother along with his family (whom the readers never see again) at the village doctor's (a better artist than he is a doctor) to describe his 'disappeared' older brother in order for the doctor to draw his portrait. We all found our comfy spot to read this and were drawn into this densely vivid heavy in-depth plot that demanded our full attention. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a sweeping novel that uncovers the characters' pasts and propels them into the future. but it made me think really? KIRA WALTON has been stalking books all her life as a college English teacher, bookseller, book club consultant, author, and editor. I couldn't point it out on a map though. In this haunting masterwork, award-winning author Anthony Marra transports us to a snow-covered village in Chechnya. I originally learned about this book when it was. We all know, as William Tecumseh Sherman once noted, that “War is Hell!” Later, Jean-Paul Sartre concluded that “Hell is other people.” It therefore stands to reason that war is other people. Marra’s novel was a National Book Award long list selection as well as a shortlist selection for the Flaherty-Dunnan first novel prize. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena takes what might be, for many readers, a tragic but distant muddle, and makes it real, in that paradoxical way that only fiction can. Fearing the worst, their lifelong neighbor Akhmed rescues the girl and seeks refuge at the bombed-out hospital run by Sonja, a brilliant but tough-as-nails female surgeon. What does it mean for Sonja and Natasha to be ethnically Russian? As well as being the most cleverly structured novel I’ve read all year A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon also features some of the most memorable characters. I know how I felt while reading this book, but why? Russ. What does A Constellation of Vital Phenomena ultimately say about anguish and joy? But Marra crosses the t’s and dots the i’s and leaves the reader an emotional wreck. 11. Dwight Garner - New York Times Upon starting this book I had heard of Chechnya. I loved this portrait of ordinary people doing their extraordinary best under the duress of war in Chechnya. I had high expectations of this book after seeing a few recommendations from friends here. Garnering rave reviews coast-to-coast, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is an unforgettable debut novel that deftly explores the human cost of war—and the healing power of hope. "Life: a constellation of vital phenomena - organization, irritability, movement, growth, reproduction, adaption." The passage (actually one long sentence) is about a younger brother along with his family (whom the readers never see again) at the village doctor's (a better artist than he is a doctor) to describe his 'disappeared' older brother in order for the doctor to draw his portrait. Book Publishing. Enter to win our favorite new reads, bookish goodies, and so much more. I have just seen that people post to Goodreaders the request for recommendations of similar books. A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a work of sweeping breadth, profound compassion, and lasting significance. Sex slavery. Wishing I could read this again for the first time. ― Anthony Marra, quote from A Constellation of Vital Phenomena “There was a time when she had indulged in the hypothetical for hours a day, plotting the map that had led her here. The story, told from an omniscient point of view , begins one morning in … A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a work of sweeping breadth, profound compassion, and lasting significance. 6. For a young American writer to choose Chechnya as the subject for a first novel shows commendable ambition, and for the most part he gets away with it. --"Maclean's ""The simplest life cannot precisely be put down in details or marks on a page--the spirit fundamentally escapes language, if only because we can't pronounce the words. I am in awe; Anthony Marra has a rare gift with words. Anthony Marra bypasses the facts and figures and takes us directly into the lives of ordinary people trying to make a meaningful existence amid the rubble and death and ongoing violence. Life: a constellation of vital phenomena. Every week we host a new literary giveaway! I haven't read what GR friends have said about this book--I'm coming to it a little later than most--which made it all the more of a pleasure. What accounts for the very different fates of Natasha and Sonja? Get weekly book recommendations delivered right to your inbox and find out What We’re Reading. Welcome back. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is his first novel. It can feel satisfying on one level with everything fitting so neatly (who has crossed paths with whom, etc.) Is Natasha’s beauty an asset or a liability? How did your image of Akhmed shift throughout the chapters? Yet again I am left baffled by the glowing reviews and the hype. Marra’s novel was a National Book Award long list selection as well as a shortlist. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, by Anthony Marra Discussion Leader: Ellen Getreu In a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night and then set fire to her home. Life is valued by the governing powers as cheaply as in the Nazi concentration camps. Accused of aiding Chechen rebels, her father has suffered the brutality of the Feds before. Why near the conclusion did I just listen to get to the end? I have a few small quibbles, the first being the ove. We are experiencing an error, please try again. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Summary & Study Guide Anthony Marra This Study Guide consists of approximately 53 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. Marra uses an invented town in the novel and at times you feel he’s also using an invented country. Two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child in this majestic debut about love, … How does his art restore the humanity around him? Anthony Marra’s Chechnya is every bit as bleak and brutal as the post-apocalyptic world Cormac McCarthy creates in The Road. Why did I constantly want to do anything else but listen? 8. “Life: a constellation of vital phenomena—organization, irritability, movement, growth, reproduction, adaptation.” ― Anthony Marra, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Good thing for me that it's about others because what Marra described in this book sounded awful. The lyricism of the long sentence is what captivated me at the time, but it also encapsulates muc. The definition of a foot. Anthony Marra's first novel was A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013), which won an array of prizes including the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize, the Barnes and Noble Fiction Discover Award, the Grand Prix des Lectrices de Elle and the Athens Prize for Literature, and appeared on more than twenty Books of the Year lists. A Constellation of Vital Phenomena won the John Leonard prize for a first book from the National Book Critics Circle. Sonja’s neighbour has ‘bartered a jar of engine oil for sandals that bore the blackened imprints of forty different toes’. 9. So many glowing reviews made me think that it was going to be a book that I would going to remember for a very very long time, that too in a good way. Two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child in this majestic debut about love, … We all know, as William Tecumseh Sherman once noted, that “War is Hell!” Later, Jean-Paul Sartre concluded that “Hell is other people.” It therefore stands to reason that war is other people. Their human spirit shines through like the grass that grows in the cracks of a sidewalk. 3. We’d love your help. “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” is set against the tangle of wars, occupations and insurgencies that have racked Chechnya since the early 1990s. Leaving three sisters and myself in a cou. Would you become an informant if your life depended on it? Actress Sarah Jessica Parker may be best known for her roles on HBO’s Sex and the City and Divorce as well as for being a fashion... 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. I knew little of Chechnya, and Marra does a masterful job of supplying enough information without weighing down the narrative. What is phenomenal about the life force and the body’s intricate capabilities? Why is Sonja able to remain clear-eyed and resilient? She flipped through the book and found answers to questions no sane person would ever ask. See all 13 questions about A Constellation of Vital Phenomena…, A Small Corner of Hell: Dispatches from Chechnya, The Angel of Grozny: Orphans of a Forgotten War, Allah's Mountains: The Battle for Chechnya, New Edition, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra - 4 stars, Sarah Jessica Parker’s Next Big Challenge? Every now and then, a book comes along that restores my faith in the future of the novel all over again. February 4th 2014 The A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Community Note includes chapter-by-chapter summary and analysis, character list, theme list, historical context, author biography and quizzes written by community members like you. It's also a difficult book to read. In his review for the Washington Post, Ron Charles describes the novel as “a flash in the heavens that makes you look up and believe in miracles.” Discuss the book’s closing lines in that context. This beautiful and haunting novel is one of my favorite books of 2013. To say this was an excellent book would be an understatement. To see what your friends thought of this book. I loved this book! Discuss the title (in chapter 24, Sonja stumbles across it in a Russian medical dictionary’s definition of life). 1. As life pulled some of the sisters away from the story they became really lost with their focus and had to leave the coulee and return back to read this at another time. Oh, what a joy to read a fully-realized, beautifully written, totally engrossing novel. Garnering rave reviews coast-to-coast, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is an unforgettable debut novel that deftly explores the human cost of war—and the healing power of hope. ANTHONY MARRA is the winner of a Whiting Award, Pushcart Prize, and the Narrative Prize. Each chapter is set in one of the ten years the book covers and the alternating stories require the reader's attention. Their life-long friend and neighbour, Akhmed, has also been watching, and when he finds Havaa he knows of only Each chapter is set in one of the ten years the book covers and the alternating stories require the reader's attention. There's nothing easy about torture. Anthony Marra's debut novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, takes place in war-torn Chechnya — a world of perpetual violence, fear and exploding land mines. I loved this book and did not want it to end. Ostensibly the novel is set in Chechnya though in many ways the novel depicts a generic modern war and the terrifying lawlessness that prevails in an invaded country. When is this an advantage, and when is it a disadvantage? To say this was an excellent book would be an understatement. The writing was beautiful. The engrossing story was heartbreaking, uplifting, sad, and confirmed the best in people in terrible sit. It hews to the historical record. As life pulled some of the sisters away from the story they became really lost with their focus and had to leave the coulee and return back to read this at another time. The novel brings to life the cruel absurdities of war with moments of light and humanity. Start by marking “A Constellation of Vital Phenomena” as Want to Read: Error rating book. Two doctors risk everything to save the life of a hunted child in this majestic debut about love, … Over the course of five extraordinary days, their worlds will unravel in unimaginable ways, culminating in a breathtaking, ultimately affirming turn of fate. The history of ethnic strife in Chechnya is long and confusing. I started off lost in a coulee reading A Constellation of Vital Phenomena with seven of my Traveling Sisters and some of us really got lost in this story. It begins with the horror of a father, Dokka, taken violently away by the Feds during the middle of the night. 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