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A striking debut about love, loss, and the unexpected ties that bind us together

A Constellation Of Vital Phenomena: A Novel by Anthony Marra

A striking debut about love, loss, and the unexpected ties that bind us together

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel

Anthony Marra
  • Imprint: Hogarth
  • On sale: May 7, 2013
  • Price: $26.00
  • Pages: 400
  • ISBN: 9780770436407
Contact: Rachel Rokicki

*Winner of the 2012 Whiting Writers’ Award*

# 1 Indie Next Pick

*Barnes & Noble’S 2013 Discover Great New Writers pick*

*PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY’S TOP Ten Debut Novels of The Season*


Anthony Marra’s exquisite debut novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is about the transcendent power of love in wartime.  Marra, a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University with an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, is the winner of the 2012 Whiting Writers’ Award, as well as The Atlantic’s Student Writing Contest, the Pushcart Prize, and the Narrative Prize.  Marra sets the novel in contemporary Chechnya, a republic in southern Russia, which has endured a series of devastating wars, occupations, and insurgencies that began in 1994 and have only recently subsided (Marra has himself traveled through Chechnya).  During the years in which the novel takes place, Russian forces abducted anyone suspected of abetting Chechen separatists, a practice which continues to this day.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena begins in a snow-covered village where eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in a midnight raid, accusing him of conspiring with Chechen rebels.  Not far away their lifelong neighbor Akhmed has also been watching, fearing the worst when the soldiers set fire to Havaa’s house.  But when he finds her hiding beyond the blaze, huddled beside a strange blue suitcase, he decides to seek sanctuary in the only safe place he can think of: an abandoned hospital where he has heard rumor of one brilliant but troubled remaining surgeon.  For the talented and self-reliant Sonja, the arrival of Akhmed and Havaa is an unwelcome addition to the stream of wounded rebels and refugees she treats while desperately awaiting the return of her missing sister.  But over the course of five dramatic days, her life will change as a tapestry of compassion, betrayal, and forgiveness emerges to weave together the pasts of these three unlikely companions and ultimately decide their fate.

With The English Patients dramatic sweep and The Tiger’s Wife’s graceful entwining of family and history, A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA tells the story of the things in us that survive—the love a parent feels for a child, or the love that develops between two strangers—and the complexities and sacrifices that love demands.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ANTHONY MARRA is the winner of a Whiting Award, Pushcart Prize, The Atlantic’s Student Writing Contest, and the Narrative Prize, and his work was anthologized in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012.  He received an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is presently a Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, where he will begin teaching as the Jones Lecturer in Fiction this fall. He has lived and studied in Eastern Europe, and now resides in Oakland, CA.  A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is his first novel.

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