Tuesday, July 2, 2013

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

By: Anthony Marra
Location: FIC MAR
Genre: Historical Fiction- War

 The Boston Marathon terrorists were from Chechnya- what I don't know really is what is Chechnya's story. What has made it into a place that causes others to blow people up across the other side of the world?  It is the same issues that made Sarajevo irreputable, the same issues that stops a Palestinian boy playing with his friends from across the wall, the same issues that made Rwanda implode, the same stories that resulted in Ireland living in lock down for decades. It is the stories of inherited fear and hatred, birthed by ignorance and a refusal to get to know living loving people, instead it is holding to the myth of hatred. Chechnya has the same story that nations have had for millennia, this book lives it out for us.

Janette from Goodreads.com reviews the book in this way
The history of ethnic strife in Chechnya is long and confusing. 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. Living in a state of constant trauma changes all the rules. Young and old, ethnic Russians and Chechen Muslims, the characters' lives intersect in such a way that they cannot hate each other with the intensity prescribed by their ancestors.

With a complete absence of emotional manipulation, Marra takes us back and forth in the lives of the characters, moving along a timeline from 1994 to 2004. As they move in and out of periods of war, we see the events that led them to their current behaviors. Their choices begin to make more sense when we see how they have suffered, and the sins they have committed in the name of self-preservation. These are the sins for which they are now seeking absolution, whether from a higher power or from those they have wronged


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