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Anthony Marra

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena

Hogarth

2014 Fiction

Anthony Marra was born in Washington, D.C. At 19, he worked full-time in a UPS office before enrolling at the University of Southern California, where he received his bachelor’s of art degree. He studied at Charles University in Prague and at St. Petersburg State University in Russia, and earned an MFA from the Iowa Writers Workshop. He is presently a Wallace Stegner Fellow in Creative Writing at Stanford University. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, The New Republic, Narrative magazine, the 2011 Pushcart Prize anthology and the Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012. He lives in Oakland, Cal.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is set in Chechnya and unfolds over five days, with many cross-cuts into the recent wars in the region. Marra takes his title from a medical dictionary definition of life and his inspiration, in part, from the fact that no previous English language novel was set in a region that has been fertile soil for Leo Tolstoy, Mikhail Lermontov and Alexandr Pushkin.

Marra’s arresting debut novel unfurls through the interlocking lives of six characters. It begins as Russian authorities burn a Muslim home and “disappear” a father while his daughter escapes to the forest. A neighbor decides to hide this 8-year-old girl in a dilapidated hospital. Lives bind and fray in chaos, and regular people – each in their own way – try to transcend their circumstances by saving others.

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena won the John Leonard prize for a first book from the National Book Critics Circle.

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Blog Posts about Anthony Marra

#WritersOnTrump Push Back On Presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee

Five winners of the Anisfield-Wolf Book award in fiction are standing up to publicly, “as a matter of conscience, oppose, unequivocally, the candidacy of Donald J. Trump for the Presidency of the United States.”They join Anisfield-Wolf juror Rita Dove and more than 400 writers who list eight reasons to decry Trump’s candidacy, published as an open letter on LitHub.The novelists include this year’s winner Mary Morris (The Jazz Palace), as well as Junot Diaz (The Brief, Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao), Maxine Hong Kingston (The Woman... Read More →

VIDEO: Anthony Marra On Winning The 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Award For Fiction

A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is an intoxicating first book about intersecting lives in war-torn Chechnya. The novel begins as Russian officers burn down a Muslim home and “disappear” the father Dokka but can’t find his daughter Haava. A neighbor hides the 8-year-old girl in a barely-functioning hospital. Novelist Anthony Marra sets this story over five taut days, as the child is hunted and the adults around her try to navigate radically different circumstances. Marra teaches at Stanford University. We caught up with Marra a few... Read More →

Anthony Marra Brings His New Author Magic To Cleveland September 10

Anthony Marra startled the literary world in 2013 with his stunner of a debut, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena. His fresh, Chechnya-inspired book won this year’s Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and will bring its author to Cleveland for the first time. He follows in the footsteps of Iraq War veteran Kevin Powers, who spoke last year about his own war novel, “The Yellow Birds” on the campus of Case Western Reserve University.  Marra, 30, will speak and read at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, September 10, in the intimate setting of the Baker-Nord... Read More →

Explore 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Award Winning Titles At Cleveland Public Library's Brown Bag Book Club

On the cusp of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Awards ceremony, join awards manager Karen R. Long for a personal introduction to the titles being honored this year. Long will offer a speed date with each book, and an introduction to the Lifetime Achievement winners on Wednesday, September 3 at noon. Her presentation will kick off this fall’s Brown Bag Book Club at the Cleveland Public Library downtown. In subsequent weeks, the series will then break out to examine each of the 2014 award-winning books in turn. Beginning Wednesday, September 10... Read More →
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