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0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Anthony Marra Narrator: Colette Whitaker Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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In the final days of December 2004, in a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa hides in the woods when her father is abducted by Russian forces. Fearing for her life, she flees with their neighbor Akhmed, a failed physician, to the bombed-out hospital, where Sonja, the one remaining doctor, treats a steady stream of wounded rebels and refugees and mourns her missing sister. Over the course of five dramatic days, Akhmed and Sonja reach back into their pasts to unravel the intricate mystery of coincidence, betrayal, and forgiveness that unexpectedly binds them and decides their fate.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Powerful, convincing, beautifully realized--it's hard to believe that A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a first novel. Anthony Marra is a writer to watch and savor.”

    T. C. Boyle, New York Times bestselling author

  • A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is simply spectacular. Not since Everything is Illuminated have I read a first novel so ambitious and fully realized. If this is where Anthony Marra begins his career, I can't imagine how far he will go.”

    Ann Patchett, New York Times bestselling author

  • “With remarkable pathos and a surprising amount of humor, Marra keeps the focus on the relationships, struggles, and tiny triumphs of an unforgettable group of characters...Marra creates a specific and riveting world around his characters, expertly revealing the unexpected connections among them…This novel, full of humanity and hope, ultimately leaves you uplifted. Constellation deserves to be on the short list for every major award. It’s an absolute masterpiece.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Extraordinary....a twenty-first-century War and Peace…Marra seems to derive his astral calm in the face of catastrophe directly from Tolstoy.”

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A flash in the heavens that makes you look up and believe in miracles....Here, in fresh, graceful prose, is a profound story that dares to be as tender as it is ghastly, a story about desperate lives in a remote land that will quickly seem impossibly close and important...I haven’t been so overwhelmed by a novel in years. At the risk of raising your expectations too high, I have to say you simply must read this book.”

    Washington Post

  • “[A Constellation of Vital Phenomena] pulls together blown-out bits of a world turned inside-out to create a brutal form of beauty from chaos…Its prose is also ruefully funny in places and littered throughout with dazzling poetry.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “A powerful tale....The moment Akhmed walks into the hospital with Havaa…rivals anything Michael Ondaatje has written in its emotional force....There are many reasons to read A Constellation of Vital Phenomena....to marvel at the lack of fear in a writer so young. To read a book that can bring tears to your eyes and force laughter from your lungs....But the one I kept returning to, the best reason to read this novel, is that this story reminds us how senseless killing often wrenches kindness through extreme circumstances.”

    Boston Globe

  • “Over and over again, this is an examination of the ways in which many broken pieces come together to make a new whole. In exquisite imagery, Marra tends carefully to the twisted strands of grace and tragedy....Everything in A Constellation of Vital Phenomena...is dignified with a hoping, aching heartbeat.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Excellent.”

    New York magazine

  • “Marra…writes dense prose full of elegant detail about the physical and emotional destruction of occupation and war.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “An extraordinary first novel.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Affecting and harrowing…A decade of war in Chechnya informs this multivalent, heartfelt debut, filled with broken families, lost limbs, and valiant efforts to find scraps of hope and dignity.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Narrator Colette Whitaker does a beautiful job with this stunningly accomplished first novel. Set in a tiny Chechen village during the wars, the story deals with human beings under the worst kinds of pressure life or art can devise and looks at them straight on, with sympathy and depth and mercy. Whitaker must deal with Russian and Chechen accents; voices of men, women, and children; and characters that seem at first to be irredeemable but whose humanity is never in doubt. Again and again in this remarkable work you think you know what has happened and what it means, only to have it go wider and deeper. Whitaker's voice is lovely, and her command of her craft is deft and sure. You won’t soon forget it. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award.”


  • “A novel of loyalty and sacrifice and enduring love. You’ll finish it transformed.”

    Maile Meloy, author of Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It

  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • Selected for the May 2013 Indie Next List
  • Winner of the 2013 Barnes & Noble Discover Award for Fiction
  • A 2013 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize Finalist
  • A 2013 National Book Award Nominee for Fiction
  • A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2013
  • New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books, 2013
  • A 2013 New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books, 2013
  • A 2013 Washington Post Top 10 Book for Fiction
  • A 2013 Booklist Editors’ Choice for Adult Books
  • An Amazon Top 100 Book of 2013
  • A New York Times Bestseller
  • A Washington Post Bestseller
  • A 2014 ALA Notable Book for Adult Fiction
  • A Kansas City Star Top 100 Book of 2013
  • A 2013 Chicago Tribune Book of the Year
  • A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2013
  • A Christian Science Monitor Book of the Year for 2013
  • A 2013 BookPage Best Book
  • An NPR Bestseller
  • Winner of the 2014 Indies Choice Award for Book of the Year: Adult Debut
  • Winner of the 2014 California Gold Medal for Literature
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