The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra
Genre: Short Stories
Synopsis from Goodreads:
“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. ”
I read this book a few months ago, but having started this blog, I feel the need to share my thoughts on this amazing book again here. This was an absolute favorite of mine this year and I can see myself re-reading it. If I really were going to be stranded on a desert island, I’d be sure to pack a copy of this.
Some things to know about me up front: I love anything that’s about Russia or the Soviet Union or any of the Former Soviet Republics and I absolutely hate reading short stories. I like longer stories in the form of novels because I feel like I need that depth, and short stories usually don’t provide that for me. For me, reading is about pleasure, and I get much more pleasure out of a novel than a collection of short stories.
That said, this is a book of short stories set in the Soviet Union, Chechnya, and post-Soviet Russia. I didn’t realize that when I first decided to read it, but I gave it a try anyway and this collection ended up being one of my favorite books of the year. There was so much to love about all of these stories, from the characters to the writing to the individual stories themselves. They’re all interconnected, weaving a larger, more cohesive story through the lens of different people and different situations. Together, they painted a picture of life in the Soviet Union/Russia/Former Soviet Republics.
I borrowed this book from the library, but I loved it so much that I think I’ll end up buying a copy to keep on my shelf. I gave this five stars and recommend it to everyone!