Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra
Sometimes you read a book and you are astounded by the humanity of it. The Tsar of Love and Techno is Anthony Marra’s second published novel. I say that because I can’t believe he has only really written this and Constellation of Vital Phenomena. He’s too good for just two.
As in Constellation of Vital Phenomena, we are again in Chechnya and in this new book, Tsar of Love and Techno, we begin in deep tunnels with a man whose job it is to censor photos and paintings. Take out faces of believed dissidents. But as he does this, one day he decides to take out one face, and put another somewhere in. It’s the face of his brother. He inserts the face of his brother, whose very image was ordered destroyed. Eventually, as many people are in 1930’s Russia, he is coerced to confess a collaboration with one of the subjects of his censorship.
Slowly we are taken through the lives of nine people who are quietly dissident in small controllable ways, some more successfully than others. Lives in Siberia and Russia who are connected to each other. And always there is the painting of a landscape, a thread that runs through and ties these nine together.
We don’t often know what life is like, how it is endured, in secretive countries. But Mr. Marra tells us.
What’s amazing is the humanity in Marra’s books. If you don’t feel for the people by page 10 you must put the book down because you will never get it.
I was given this book to ready by Blogging for Books in exchange for my opinion.
One word - excellent.