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Monday, May 6, 2013

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel

Oh. My. Gawd. I loved this book so hard I can't even begin. I must still sit in awe for a few minutes, observing a long moment of silence for this awesome (in the most literal sense of the world) and huge books. This is Anthony Marra's A Constellation of Vital Phenomena.

Cechnya, a war-torn country that has experienced years of economic turmoil, holds villages of ghosts. In one, 41 villagers have disappeared in this second war, and there is no end in sight. One night Akhmed watches his neighbor Dokka taken away by the Feds. Akhmed knows what this means--everyone knows what this means. Dokka will never return. Akhmed watches the Feds burn his neighbor's home, but where is Dokka's young daughter, Havaa? Akhmed finds her hiding in the woods and spirits her away to the only place he knows she is safe--the local hospital. There he meets Sonja, the brilliant surgeon with ghosts of her own to chase down. Together they must survive, forged together by a war that is killing them, both literally and figuratively.

This book is so emotionally stunning, so beautifully written, and so elegantly painful that I could just sing its' praises for hours on this blog. I could (and would, if I had the time) write effusive praise with the biggest of words and the most fragrant phrases you could ever imagine. This book had me in shatters for days. DAYS, I TELL YOU. It broke my heart into a million little pieces, then put it back together again with Scotch tape and dental-floss stitches. (You will get the reference when you read the book.) I was devastated, so devastated, and to leave the world of Akhmed, Sonia, and Havaa just because I finished the book was one of the most unfair moments of my life. Like, EVER.

I can see why Marra is getting fellowships and awards and praise out the ying-yang. This novel is so well-deserved it's ridiculous. I felt that a baby was being ripped from my arms when I had to put this book down. The man writes like a slow ballet piece by the world's most brilliant choreographer: Every movement is painstakingly defined, every muscle is used, and the story that is told by the end is gut-punchingly gorgeous. (Yes, I just made up the phrase "gut-punchingly." I need you to read this book so badly I have resorted to inventing words.) The characters will stay with you, their stories will stay with you, and you too will have a life-changing experience with this book.

You might notice that I have labeled this book under "Award Winners." Has it won anything yet? Who cares. It will. This book is Pultizer-, National Book Award-, and any-other-award-you-can-thing-of-worthy. Mark my words.

You would be absolutely remiss in not getting this book for yourself.

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