Review of The Tsar of Love and Techno 

Title: The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories
Author: Anthony Marra
ISBN-13: 9780770436438
Publisher: Hogarth
Publication Date: October 6, 2015
Pages: 352

Synopsis:  “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.” 

Looks like I’ve been reading more and more short stories, but these nine interconnected stories – in my mind, one big story broken into scenes– are a masterpiece.

In the first story, set in Leningrad in 1937, Roman Markin, an artist-turned-censor, specializes in removing those who have lost favor from photographs to ensure those photographs are politically correct. Gradually he begins to insert his own brother’s face, one of the purged, as well as a talented ballerina he’s erasing. All stories are connected to this.

In Granddaughters, the next story, we meet Galina, the ballerina’s beautiful granddaughter, who captures the Miss Siberia crown and moving up in life while her first love, Kolya, is sent to fight in Chechnya.

In the particularly poignant A Prisoner of the Caucasus, we meet up with Kolya and his fellow prisoner Danilo.
More interconnections follow. We meet the offspring of Roman Markin’s purged brother – a nephew who shows up at the 2013 exhibition of Roman’s work with his own son. And certainly, we recognize the points where past and present intersect.
Marra’s stories are linked together by a painting and span the years 1937 to the present. I really enjoyed this book. I give this a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

FTC Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.


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