The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories by Anthony Marra
Paperback, 352 pages
Published October 6th, 2015 by Random House Canada
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 is an absolutely beautiful and atmospheric short story collection. The stories may change perspective, time, location, but they felt like different chapters in the same tale—each character and story weaving together into one seamless tapestry.
I don’t even know what to say about this book other than you should read it. It’s completely beautiful, poignant, and heart wrenching.
These stories are about love, family, war and its lasting impact. One of the main things that link these characters is their connection to a Chechen painting. This painting takes on a different and deeply personal meaning to each of the characters that encounter it.
Marra sets the stage with a story in Soviet Russia, and then the rest of the stories take place in post-Soviet Russia, with all the fallout and legacies that entails. The writing is so beautiful and atmospheric with such a strong sense of place.
The stories take place in Russia and Chechnya. Mainly in Grozny (Chechnya), Leningrad/St. Petersburg (Russia), and Kirovsk (Russia). Kirovsk plays the biggest role—it’s a desolate oil mining landscape peopled by desperate and impoverished people suffering from the lasting legacy of the Soviets.
This is an incredibly beautiful book and I highly recommend it! If you enjoy gorgeous and intricate storytelling and historical fiction about war, you will adore this book.
Beth O’Brien is a library assistant and book blogger. Born and raised in Atlantic Canada, she lives in picturesque Nova Scotia with her cat Edith. You can often find her rocking double denim with her nose in a book and a craft beer in her hand. Follow her on Twitter @fuelldbyfiction.