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One Of The New York Times Best Books Of The Year A Best Book Of Entertainment Weekly, The Washington Post, NPR, Kirkus, AV Club National Book Award FinalistFinalist For The National Book Critics Circle John Leonard PrizeLonglisted For The Center For Fiction First Novel Prize National Best Seller Splendidly Imagined Thrilling Simon Winchester A Genuine Masterpiece Gary Shteyngart Spellbinding, Moving Evoking A Fascinating Region On The Other Side Of The World This Suspenseful And Haunting Story Announces The Debut Of A Profoundly Gifted WriterOne August Afternoon, On The Shoreline Of The Kamchatka Peninsula At The Northeastern Edge Of Russia, Two Girls Sisters, Eight And Eleven Go Missing In The Ensuing Weeks, Then Months, The Police Investigation Turns Up Nothing Echoes Of The Disappearance Reverberate Across A Tightly Woven Community, With The Fear And Loss Felt Most Deeply Among Its WomenTaking Us Through A Year In Kamchatka, Disappearing Earth Enters With Astonishing Emotional Acuity The Worlds Of A Cast Of Richly Drawn Characters, All Connected By The Crime A Witness, A Neighbor, A Detective, A Mother We Are Transported To Vistas Of Rugged Beauty Densely Wooded Forests, Open Expanses Of Tundra, Soaring Volcanoes, And The Glassy Seas That Border Japan And Alaska And Into A Region As Complex As It Is Alluring, Where Social And Ethnic Tensions Have Long Simmered, And Where Outsiders Are Often The First To Be AccusedIn A Story As Propulsive As It Is Emotionally Engaging, And Through A Young Writer S Virtuosic Feat Of Empathy And Imagination, This Powerful Novel Brings Us To A New Understanding Of The Intricate Bonds Of Family And Community, In A Russia Unlike Any We Have Seen Before DnF at 40% Wanted to like this but I m just not connecting with the story Two you g girls go missing Each succeeding chapter covers a month since they are gone Each chapter also introduces new characters, whose life has been marginally impacted by this tragedy The problem is not only that I was bored, which I was, but that I wasn t taken by any of these characters, just didn t care about them. The correct response to the ending of this book is a violently whispered, fuck Reading the last couple chapters, it felt like my heart sprang into my throat and seemed to hang there, hammering Five thousand sentences sprinted through my mind and none of them got to the finish tape It was as though the blanket of shock that had muted the events of this book was suddenly thrown off, and flooding my senses, was a seethe of feelings dread, fear, hope, relief, each entangled in the roots of the others.Julia Phillips does not make it easy on the reviewer charged with describing her book The first chapter opens with two young sisters Alyona and Sophia Golosovskaya, ages 11 and 8 soaking up the sun one August afternoon at the edge of a bay in far eastern Russia s Kamchatka Peninsula By chapter s end where the sisters had been there was naught but absence, like a rift in the world where something precious had been and then was lost They ve disappeared like windblown ghosts lured, it seems, into a strange man s shiny black car.From there, Disappearing Earth departs radically and refreshingly from the expected The novel breaks into a dozen story lines, told by a dozen narrators, over the span of a year, and by pivoting so quickly, the author throws the reader utterly off guard Don t expect this book to rush forth with a brimming cup of answers Phillips is in no hurry to cut to the chase, and the novel is less concerned with solving the mystery, and preoccupied with bringing readers deep into the interior lives of the women who were, directly or indirectly, affected by the tragedy like tossing a stone into a pond and watching the ripple pass across its surface.The novel does little to clarify how all the characters fit together At first, at least, it s markedly confusing, and the reader has no way of knowing how many pages they would have of this purgatorial existence before an answer is dragged to the fore Disappearing Earth is rather like a puzzle that you must try to piece together by figuring out how the characters will ultimately relate to one another Throughout, I was dogged by the feeling that there was something important I wasn t paying attention to, and the epic converging of plotlines at the end cut straight through the whirlwind in my mind, leaving me with an ache in my chest from emotions that wouldn t fit right.There s plenty to knit together in Disappearing Earth, and the author, incredibly, doesn t skip a stitch Phillips not only makes her unusual structure work, she makes it a breeze In sharp, unadorned writing, she moves through her novel like a wave, graceful, but with relentless, driving motion She also works a very interesting effect although the story operates on a sprawling scale, it s all deftly balanced and impeccably contained, as taut as a bowstring, with an urgency to it that propels the bare boned plot.The novel s big triumph, however, lies in its expert evocation of life in Russia s isolated, volcano studded Kamchatka Peninsula, and then intricately tying it to the brilliantly rendered characters In vivid flashes of imagery, Phillips lays bare the foibles of the town s life, with its seasons, hardships, beauties, and latent violence boiling beneath the surface Her sense of place is undeniably acute, but it is the author s attention and control of an unwieldy cast of characters and the relationships that are shaped by this unforgiving, magnificent landscape that stuck fast, smoldering, as if branded by fire, onto the surface of my thoughts Phillips fits big emotion and big thought into each chapter, each story Everything the reader could want to know about the novel s complex sometimes even detestable characters is laid out in these accounts Their physicality is heavy and palpable, and you know right away where every character fits, both in the sense of where society has put them and where they d rather be It s what kicks an interesting mystery into something much visceral, and I was left genuinely impressed.The exploration of cultural misogyny also manifests itself in clever, subtle ways throughout and it s both otherworldly and harrowingly recognizable, like turning a corner and unexpectedly meeting your own gaze in a mirror Phillips plunges the reader into the broken shards of the violence permeating women s lives, and it s like a living thing slowly taking shape between the pages In that sense, Phillips is a feminist writer, although she lets her novel audaciously spell out the message.Disappearing Earth brims with stories about women, in some way or another, struggling from the webbing of society, desperate to escape the sour smell of shame and judgment that settles like ash over their lives A single mother who s lost her daughters and is seeing the pity and scorn on everyone s faces, and feeling it in the rawness of her flesh and the ache of her every movement A college student unwittingly stuck in an abusive relationship that was as cramped and airless as a coffin, and she could barely breathe or move in it Another unwed mother consumed by a general sense of dread and imprisonment within her boyfriend s garbage palace of a rental house and so she leaves, her daughter in tow, hoping to burn her past like the fuse on a stick of dynamite but resignedly discovers that she only has enough money to make it to her parents house A twice widowed woman whose grief was a feeling weighted with stones, as if she were falling into ocean depths Another young woman in a party, surrounded by drunk men, feeling the fear rising in her, sudden and sharp, for her friend after she spoke freely of breaking up with her girlfriend Another missing girl only this time her disappearance is only met with a pitying shake of the head because she had a reputation , and worse, with scathing indifference because she was not white.The experiences of these women, each different, is somehow as familiar as one s own skin The kidnapping of the Golosovskaya sisters is always there, a shimmering apparition in the corner of their lives, always obtruding at the corners of their vision, and all of them are wearying under the burden of the reminder that if you aren t doing what you re supposed to, if you let your guard down, they will come for you You believe that you keep yourself safe, she thought You lock up your mind and guard your reactions so nobody, not an interrogator or a parent or a friend, will break in You earn a graduate degree and a good position You keep your savings in a foreign currency and you pay your bills on time When your colleagues ask you about your home life, you don t answer You work harder You exercise Your clothing flatters You keep the edge of your affection sharp, a knife, so that those near you know to handle it carefully You think you established some protection and then you discover that you endangered yourself to everyone you ever met Disappearing Earth has a profoundly emotional, universal core This deeply meditative, heart rending tale is stunningly original and a remarkable achievement Not to be missed BLOG TWITTER INSTAGRAM TUMBLR What answers could Alla Innokentevna have for her Marina might ask what it was like to see your child turn thirteen, or fifteen, or graduate from high school How it felt to know, and not just suspect, that if you had been a better parent, attentive, responsible, then your baby would not be gone today How to go on. Disappearing Earth is quite an extraordinary novel There is a missing persons mystery at the centre of the book, but no one should go into this expecting a typical mystery Or a typical anything at all.I love it when an author tries something different and it just works Here, Phillips begins on the remote Kamchatka peninsula, in the city of Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky, with two young girls accepting a ride home from a stranger and then going missing The need to discover the girls fate offers an immediate emotional pull, but their disappearance hovers mostly in the background for the many different stories that follow it.And Disappearing Earth contains just that many stories It can be read almost like a short story collection, with all stories alluding to or being affected by the missing girls Phillips introduces us to many different characters, each one completely distinct, complex and sympathetic Natasha sent him back a selfie with her middle finger raised Then she followed that almost instantly with a picture of herself lit by the lamp on their bedside table, her top lowered, her lips and cheeks spun by the low wattage into dark gold The story of their marriage a little love, a little rage, a lot of ocean water. The author looks at small town fears and suspicions The unusual and effective choice to tell each chapter from a different point of view allows for a bigger picture of this place to develop, as well as an intimate portrait of all the characters It reminds me of Winesburg, Ohio in its scope and beauty, and a bit of Orange s There There in its interlinking but separate stories.It was also beautifully atmospheric to me I love books with a strong sense of place, and I feel like this can create a mood which permeates the entire novel I should add that here this is probably at least in part due to my complete ignorance of this area of the world, both its geography and its customs So to me it was a very new experience I am curious what Russian readers will think.Through so many different perspectives, we see how the disappearance of the girls affects everyone, and how this changes over time The initial panic and fear of outsiders, the comparison to other disappearances, and the gradual fading from memory I also found it very interesting how the author managed to comment on so many different issues post Soviet society, racism against natives, and homophobia, for example without it becoming a book about said issues The exploration of all these things rises organically out of the characters living their lives, and is never heavy handed, preachy or judgemental.It s a beautiful smart read for fans of literary thrillers and a thoughtful meditation on culture, race, sexuality, and small town politics in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union Between this and Miracle Creek, I am really falling in love with these complex character dramas with a mystery thriller backdrop I always used to say my favourite thrillers were those that focused on the characters and were rewarding even if you figured out the reveal Well, I guess I found the perfect kind of book for me Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Youtube oooh, goodreads choice awards semifinalist for BEST MYSTERY THRILLER 2019 what will happen this is one of those rare perfect books the fact that it s a debut only makes it impressive, and no matter what this author writes next, i will be on it immediately i was fortunate enough to stumble upon a free arc of this, thinking to self, this looks like it could be good, and then when i saw all the high praise it was receiving in its early reviews, i decided to bump it up the old arc stack and see what all the fuss was about.lemme tell you, the fuss is earned.it takes place on russia s kamchatka peninsula, and at its center is the disappearance of two little girls sisters eight and eleven, who get into a stranger s car and vanish.each chapter that follows carries the story forward a month from the girls abduction in august to the following july, and each is told from a different character s perspective the disappearance worms its way into every chapter, but is usually only used to season the stories how the situation affected different people who live in the area, most of whom had no direct connection with the girls themselves, and each chapter is gripping and fully realized enough to stand alone as a short story it s such an original way to tell a missing kids narrative using that same structure i love in Winesburg, Ohio a smalltown short story cycle that both is and isn t a novel, but this one has specific touchpoints, and as time passes, the impact of the tragedy shifts the way any sensational news story shifts with the passing of time and proximity, slipping into cautionary tale or local legend, dredging up memories of earlier disappearances, giving way to where were you when recollections, becoming a different kind of collective reference point most multiple POV books will pick a handful of characters and alternate between them, and it was a great moment of realization for me, about three chapters in, when i clocked to the, oh, so we re just not going to go back to that character s POV at all, wow at first, i was a little disappointed, because i had become invested in particular voices, but with each chapter, i found myself making a whole new investment, and once i started approaching this as a short story cycle, i appreciated it even , because that s just so freaking hard to pull off, and she does it remarkably well characters do pop up again, but seen through someone else s eyes, and these transitions and the recurring motifs are handled beautifully i admit to being a very ignorant person when it comes to culture and geography, and this book introduced me to a region i knew absolutely nothing about phillips descriptions of the landscape, ethnic makeup, history, and social fabric of kamchatka was illuminating and engrossing and without a drop of hyperbole on my part masterful.i loved this book so very much her writing is flawless, the build is rich and textured, the ending is satisfying my only oh so minor complaint is i wish she hadn t dropped that mic in the final paragraph, because we knew without it being pointed out and i think it would have been elegant to not call attention to it so explicitly.but i mean, really that s not even a couple s spat in the love i have for this book it is not to be missed stunned a brilliant, brilliant debut review to come.come to my blog