A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra

Between 1994 and 2004, two wars ravaged Chechnya, “a sliver of humanity the world seemed determined to forget.” In this context of deprivation, formidable moral choices, and the evils of betrayal, torture, and sexual trafficking, 8-year-old Haava is rescued by her neighbor Akhmed when her father is “disappeared” by the Russians. The two find shelter at an abandoned hospital where Sonja Rabina, a lone surgeon struggling with the disappearance of her sister, does what she can to save anyone who arrives.

Over five days, unexpected connections between Haava, Akhmed, and Sonja’s lives emerge. Anthony Marra’s jarring, yet redemptive novel, which contains some vulgarity and sexually explicit scenes, reveals how “this incomprehensible war would take” from people “even the humanity to find it incomprehensible.” (Random House Canada)

About the Author

Sonya VanderVeen Feddema is a freelance writer and a member of Covenant CRC in St. Catharines, Ontario.