Summary and book reviews of The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra

The Tsar of Love and Techno

Stories

by Anthony Marra

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra
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    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Oct 2015, 352 pages
    Paperback:
    Jul 2016, 384 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Rebecca Foster

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About this Book

Book Summary

From the New York Times bestselling author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena - dazzling, poignant, and lyrical interwoven stories about family, sacrifice, the legacy of war, and the redemptive power of art.

This stunning, exquisitely written collection introduces a cast of remarkable characters whose lives intersect in ways both life-affirming and heartbreaking. A 1930s Soviet censor painstakingly corrects offending photographs, deep underneath Leningrad, bewitched by the image of a disgraced prima ballerina. A chorus of women recount their stories and those of their grandmothers, former gulag prisoners who settled their Siberian mining town. Two pairs of brothers share a fierce, protective love. Young men across the former USSR face violence at home and in the military. And great sacrifices are made in the name of an oil landscape unremarkable except for the almost incomprehensibly peaceful past it depicts.

In stunning prose, with rich character portraits and a sense of history reverberating into the present, The Tsar of Love and Techno is a captivating work from one of our greatest new talents.

The Tsar of Love and Techno
st. petersburg, 2010; kirovsk, 1990s

1

Galina called to say she had bought me a first-class ticket to Moscow, and then she said that my brother was dead. I couldn't believe my luck. I'd never even received first-class mail since the postal service introduced it six years ago, let alone a first-class train compartment. As for Kolya, well, he'd been dead for years.

She lived in a top-floor penthouse with a chest-tightening view, lined with thick white carpets that may have been polar bear pelts. Wealth announces itself with what's easy to break and impossible to clean. The chairs were all curvy works of art that turned sitting into yoga exercises. Jasmine and plum perfumed the air. A crooning tenor went into histrionics on the Bose. Dozy bronze Buddhas meditated on the bookshelf. I was wondering if artsy-fartsy types in Tibet fetishize crucifixes when Galina returned, her loosely tied kimono yawning at the chest and knees.

"My. God. Who...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Wartime history and artistic expression are this book's twin poles, and for both of them Marra draws powerful contrasts between the airbrushed image and the reality it hides. In a seemingly vast and uncaring universe, human connections and creative freedom are what provide meaning. This is a rich set of stories that will reward repeat readings. It cements Marra's place among the best young writers in America today.   (Reviewed by Rebecca Foster).

Full Review (774 words).

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Media Reviews

The New York Times

[E]xtraordinary… Each story is a gem in itself. But the book is greater than its parts, an almost unbearably moving exploration of the importance of love, the pull of family, the uses and misuses of history, and the need to reclaim the past by understanding who you really are and what really happened

The Washington Post

Remarkable…Marra is a gifted writer with the energy and the ambition to explore the lives of characters whose experiences and whose psyches might seem, until we read his work, so distant from our own. Reading his work is like watching the restoration — the reappearance, on the page — of those whom history has erased.

Los Angeles Magazine

Cobbled together as a sort of mixtape itself (with four stories under “Side A,” four under “Side B,” and a single-story intermission), Marra’s latest work is tender, touching, haunting at times and humorous at others—in short, a feat.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. As in his acclaimed novel, Marra finds in Chechnya an inspiration his for his uniquely funny, tragic, bizarre, and memorable fiction.

Kirkus Reviews

Starred Review. Communists, oligarchs, and toxic landscapes from Siberia to Chechnya define this collection of tightly linked stories from Marra.

Booklist

Starred Review. Marra, in between bursts of acidic humor, summons the terror, polluted landscapes, and diminished hopes of generations of Russians in a tragic and haunting collection.

BBC.com

The Tsar of Love and Techno is inventively structured, emotionally resonant, superbly rendered

Reader Reviews

Diane S.

The Tsar of love
I loved his first novel and though this is a book of short stories, I loved this one too. It is not often that one can read a book of shorts, connected thought they are and feel like one has indeed read a whole novel. This one starts with a censor in...   Read More

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Beyond the Book

Chechen Painter Pyotr Zakharov-Chechenets

A fictional nineteenth-century pastoral painting by real-life Chechen painter, Pyotr Zakharov-Chechenets, features in one of the stories in The Tsar of Love and Techno.

Pyotr Zakharov-Chechenets was born in 1816 during the Caucasian War, which was the subject of historical fiction from Tolstoy, Lermontov, and Pushkin. In 1819 the three-year-old was found beside his dead mother and nursed back to health by Zakhar Nedonosov, from whom he received his surname. The term "Chechenets" was then appended to his last name to show his ethnic identity. When he was seven years old the boy was adopted by Major-General Pyotr Yermolov, who raised him alongside his seven children.

Pyotr Zakharov-Chechenets Zakharov showed early talent for painting but was initially ...

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