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anthony marra

Hearing the Echoes the Book Had Created: A Conversation with Anthony Marra

Anthony Marra’s devastating debut novel, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, was recently longlisted for the National Book Award. The novel takes place over the course of five days in 2004 in a Chechen hospital and centers around six characters: Akhmed, a mediocre physician from a small Chechen village; Havaa, his eight-year-old neighbor whose father has just been kidnapped by the Russian Federal Secret Service (FSB); Ramzan, Akhmed’s best friend who has turned informer for the FSB; Khassan, Ramzan’s elderly father who has spent his life writing a massive tome dedicated to Chechen history; Sonja, the sole remaining surgeon at a nearby hospital; and Natasha, Sonja’s beautiful sister whose whereabouts are unknown when the novel begins. Deeply humane and profoundly moving, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is a novel that resounds with the reader long after finishing it. Anthony Marra spoke with Brendan Dowling via telephone on November 6, 2013.