The Tsar Of Love And Techno: Stories by Anthony MarraThe Tsar Of Love And Techno: Stories by Anthony Marra

The Tsar Of Love And Techno: Stories

byAnthony Marra

Paperback | October 6, 2015

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From the author of National Book Award longlist selection and New York Times bestseller A Constellation of Vital Phenomena come these 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.
ANTHONY MARRA is the author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena (2013), which won the National Book Critics Circle's inaugural John Leonard Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in fiction, the Barnes and Noble Discover Award, and appeared on over twenty year-end lists. Marra's novel was a National Book Award longlist selection as wel...
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Title:The Tsar Of Love And Techno: StoriesFormat:PaperbackDimensions:352 pages, 8.3 × 5.7 × 0.9 inPublished:October 6, 2015Publisher:Random House of CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307362655

ISBN - 13:9780307362650

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from My favourite book of 2016 Anthony Marra has quickly become one of my favourite contemporary writers, if not my favourite. His two books (one a novel, and this one, a collection of interwoven short stories that read almost like a novel), possess many qualities that good books should have - but it’s rare to find a writer whose books have as many good qualities as his do. The Tsar of Love and Techno is my favourite book I’ve read so far this year, and I’m going to make the bold claim of saying that I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up being my favourite book I read all year - and it’s only March. The Tsar of Love and Techno jumps all over Russian history - from a censor working under Stalin’s terror in 1937 Leningrad, to a cast of characters living after the collapse of the Soviet Union in Kirovsk, a town that is a cesspool of chemicals in Siberia where former Gulag prisoners stayed to raise their families, as well as to the Chechen Highlands during war, to modern day St. Petersburg, and beyond. Yet, it is more than just a collection of short stories that span this time. Each story is intricately interwoven with the others, and the detailed connections between the stories were such a joyous discovery to make while reading. By the time I got to the end, I was amazed at how they were all so connected. Each story on its own packs a serious punch, though - there was not a single story I was not blown away by, and I kept thinking that one was my favourite, and then I would read the next one and it would completely change my mind. Marra successfully blends together the backdrop of Russian history and contemporary Russia with bizarre, humorous, tragic, and poignant writing. Seriously, the imagery is like nothing else, and Marra is able to invoke such a sense of sorrow and wonder in me as a reader. The impression his writing leaves is of individual people, whose lives we would have never thought about since we are so removed from their reality, and yet he makes their lives extraordinary and them seem unforgettable. And as much of a sobering book this is, it also has such clever irony and humorous passages that made me almost laugh out loud: one such example is that of the third story, ‘The Grozny Tourist Bureau,’ where the former deputy director of an art museum is tasked with running a Tourist Bureau and designing a travel brochure for Grozny in its war-torn devastation: “Upon seeing the empty space where an apartment block once stood, I wrote wide and unobstructed skies! I watched jubilantly as a pack of feral dogs chased a man, and wrote unexpected encounters with natural wildlife! The city bazaar hummed with the sales of looted industrial equipment, humanitarian aid rations, and munitions suited for every occasion: unparalleled shopping opportunities at the Grozny bazaar!” The various elements that Marra brings to this book is unlike anything I have read before, and will leave a long-lasting impression on me. The ending had me staring at the last page and simply holding the book in my hands for a matter of minutes. The sort of wonder and excitement that went through me is something I have not felt from a book in awhile, and it reminds me of why I read. Some favourite quotes: “Six decades of Soviet-speak had left her vocabulary crowded with slogans. She had little practice articulating the complexities of individual desire.” “The calcium in the collarbones I have kissed. The iron in the blood flushing those cheeks. We imprint our intimacies upon atoms born from an explosion so great it still marks the emptiness of space. A shimmer of photons bears the memory across the long, dark amnesia. We will be carried too, mysterious particles that we are.”
Date published: 2017-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Breathtaking "We've given them all we can, but our greatest gift has been to imprint upon them our ordinariness. They may begrudge us, may think us unambitious and narrow-minded, but someday they will realize that what makes them unremarkable is what keeps them alive." I don't read too many short story collections, but am so glad that I picked this one up. The Tsar of Love and Techno is a gorgeous, heartbreaking, and hopeful work of art that pulled me deep into it's world. Marra's prose is breathtaking and poignant at times (some of the most beautiful passages I've ever read are in the final pages of this book), and biting and humorous at others. 9 interconnected short stories take the reader on a journey from the 1930's USSR to present day Russia. Marra brilliantly ties the stories together through both a painting and the atrocities of war. The second to last story, A Temporary Exhibition, binds the previous stories together, leading to a extraordinarily powerful finale. This collection is so perfectly crafted that it read more like a novel to me, and I almost want to read this again right away. I'll leave you with this passage that took gave me pause; I lingered on it, read it three times, and lamented the ending of this book. "The calcium in collarbones I have kissed. The iron in the blood flushing those cheeks. We imprint our intimacies upon atoms born from an explosion so great it still marks the emptiness of space. A shimmer of photons bears the memory across the long dark amnesia. We will be carried too, mysterious particles that we are."
Date published: 2016-12-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Stunning Sophomore Novel <b>This is a fairly long review, so, the tl;dr: run to your local shop/library and check out Marra’s excellent sophomore novel. I loved it!</b> The mixtape is as sacred a token as you are likely to find among music fans. Being handed a disc with artists and songs you’ve never heard is akin to being introduced to a new world. Part of the fun in crafting and receiving music in an increasingly obsolete reflective disc is that you never really know what to expect. A bass-booming hip-hop banger could just as easily give way to a serene jazz number as an experimental rock track. A properly crafted mixtape takes the listener on a ride through a diverse soundscape but on reflection and repeat listens, you can hear the through-line that ties the project together. Anthony Marra’s latest novel, <i>The Tsar of Love and Techno</i>, is an appropriately similar experience to that of a first spin of a new disc. Billed as a short story collection, this is really a series of stories that vary in tone, character, and plot, but contain enough connective tissue to rightly be called a novel. Some stories end softly, others with a resounding crash, and I was never quite sure what to expect from the next story. There was a section that felt like punk rock, another that seemed like it should be backed by sorowful orchestral arrangements, and –of course—techno. I went into this novel having only read Marra’s previous effort, <i>A Constellation of Vital Phenomenon</i>, which I found to be quite good. This short story collection/novel shares its setting with its predecessor with some notable exceptions (<i>Constellation</i> was entirely set in Chechnya, while <i>Tsar</i> is a tour throughout Russia and beyond). My recommendation with this book is to experience it like a mixtape: go in with as little knowledge as possible and enjoy the ride. Marra’s vivid writing conjured the dreary settings of this novel in my mind’s eye. Location and time play a key roles here in both story and theme, and Marra is able to draw forth 1937's Russia just as well as modern-day. This is firmly literary fiction, and is laden with metaphor and rock-solid prose. I read this book at a slower pace than I normally would. It wasn’t because of the difficulty of the novel or a busy personal schedule; rather, it was that I wanted to give myself some time to digest each story and dig in to Marra’s writing. I thought that the variety of styles and storylines that Marra employed are all executed with only the smallest blips (the middle does sag a bit, but only slightly, and only for a short time). In fact, Marra’s skill and structure reminded me of another of my favorite authors. <i>The Tsar of Love & Techno</i>’s structure bears a familial resemblance to some of David Mitchell’s writing. We have the interlocking stories, the varied perspectives, and multiplicity of writing styles. Mitchell’s famed <i>Cloud Atlas</i>’ disparate stories seem tenuously linked at the novel’s onset only to reassemble like a matryoshka doll by the novel’s end: each piece fitting nicely into the other. By comparison, Marra’s <i>The Tsar of Love and Techno</i> is like unfolding a complex origami. While the stories all have their own identity, they are all identifiably part of a single work –a single sheet, if you will—and identifying those connections, however minor, excited me. Marra also handles a diverse cast: in both personality and gender. I was somewhat taken aback at how well Marra was able to get into the heads of both male and female characters, leaving neither sex underserviced or unbelievable. While it isn’t a prerequisite for a good novel to have an equal representation of the sexes, I believe it helps to expand the readership. One of the reasons I like to read is to appreciate perspectives that are not my own, and this book is highly recommendable in that sense alone! I don’t put much stock in the whole “chick lit/guy lit” classification. What I do believe is that there are certain novels that have almost universal appeal and this is one of them. Also, <b>THAT COVER</b>. The font, cassette tape, colouring, and unspooling tape, reminded me of an album cover. I’m pretty astonished that Marra didn’t manage to snag the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction with this book (I’ve yet to touch <i>The Sympathizer</i>, so I'll reserve judgement until then). However, Marra just seems to get better with each subsequent collection, so it is almost inevitable that he'll take home some heavy duty rewards in the future. Regardless of its award-status, it is one of the best books I’ve read this year and has jumped Marra up to my personal “buy-on-site” shortlist. Of course, like any good mixtape, this is a book that deserves to be experienced all over again.
Date published: 2016-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from It's not short stories. It's one big story broken into scenes. And it's astounding. I'm now an Anthony Marra fan for life. Not only are his books emotionally manipulative and draining - in a good way! - but he knows how to set a book in Russia. Or at least in the Russian literary milieu most Westerners picture. It's a country who's literature paints the most crushing pictures of society and war and suffering. But is also a literature that celebrates the dignity and genius and wonder of the individual who shines out of all that darkness. No wonder Russia and environs have produced so many brilliant artists. But back to Marra. He's captured this spirit, and in this book traces it through decades and intertwined families who rise above totalitarianism, and communism, and poverty to become examples of everything that is great about humanity. It's an example of love and family. And how they endure.
Date published: 2015-08-09

Editorial Reviews

FINALIST 2016 – National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction“Throughout these stories—which can stand alone or be read as one continuous, interlocking narrative—Marra walks a precarious tightrope, balancing humour with pathos, and punctuating achingly human situations with the stark exigencies of politics and war. The author’s use of violence is impressive and vivid. . . . And the directness of the prose belies the range and depth these stories achieve: Marra’s ability to inhabit characters as diverse as a Soviet-era censor and a contemporary adolescent girl is notable. . . . [Readers] can marvel at the imaginative edifice that [Marra] has created and sustained.” —Steven W. Beattie, The Globe and Mail   “Marra’s prose is lyrical and affecting. His characters are sensitively drawn souls. . . . Marra is a careful, caring observer of the human condition, a deft stylist whose writing leaves us wanting more.” —Harriet Zaidman, Winnipeg Free Press “[S]eamless prose, telling use of detail and brisk pacing. The narration throughout is particularly agile. . . . [A]mbitious and fearless. . . . Marra’s far-ranging, risky and explicitly political book marks him as a writer with an original, even singular sensibility. . . . In writing so evocatively about the harrowing stories of his characters, both Russian and Chechen, Marra brings to mind the novelist Tatyana Tolstaya.” —Alex Halberstadt, The New York Times “The Tsar of Love and Techno, then, shares much with David Mitchell’s expansive Cloud Atlas, and it wears its blend of dry humour and tragedy very well. . . . [I]mpressive.” —Ben East, The Guardian“Where to begin to try to explain this book of short stories? First, it reads like a novel. Second, you will never doubt that Anthony Marra is in charge. I began to imagine him standing before a giant bulletin board of timelines, maps and character bios—like a puppeteer moving everything into place exactly as he wanted it. The book covers a vast swath of Russian history, from 1930s Leningrad to modern day, and it’s simultaneously tragic, absurd and poignant. The last story is his only overreach, but it doesn’t matter. All you really need to know is that you should read this book.” —NPR“Interconnected stories set in a Russian industrial city are seamlessly narrated, with flashes of dark humor.” —The New York Times (Notable Book)“Like Nabokov, Marra is a writer for whom essential truths are found in detail. . . . Marra is masterful at giving just enough detail to hook the reader. . . . His stories have subtle nods to the Russian greats (Chekhov’s gun, the lady with the lapdog) and more overt echoes of the writing of Kafka and Orwell in the tales of totalitarian living. . . . Despite such repeated warnings of the dangers of individualism, Marra lets his singular voices shine.” — Sarah Gilmartin, The Irish Times“Each story is beautifully well-wrought, the characters exquisitely well-drawn and memorable. One comes to care deeply about each before he or she is replaced by someone somehow related by blood, acquaintance, or the picture of the pasture in the next story. Marra is a brilliant star in the firmament of contemporary writers: One hopes for many books to come.” —Daily Herald“[Anthony Mara has] expanded his field of vision to the troubles of the Russian people in the post-Soviet era with equally dazzling insight and humor.” —Harrisburg Magazine “Marra’s stories—about memory, art, loyalty, betrayal and love, echoing across the generations—are full of bitter ironies and straight-up gorgeous writing.” —Watertown Daily Times“[A]n extraordinary collection.” —San Francisco Chronicle“[S]tark, often bleakly comic. . . . [D]ark wonder, cynical resignation and dry irony . . . run through the souls of people in a world where the young can say that their elders ‘had journeyed through hell so we could grow up in purgatory.’” —The Washington Post“Marra is a genius and [A Constellation of Vital Phenomena] and now his second book, The Tsar of Love and Techno, are brilliant. . . . [A]n extremely clever exploration of recent times in Russia and Chechnya.” —CounterPunch“[O]ne of the best books I’ve read all year. . . . [M]asterfully crafted. . . . The stories build effortlessly on one another, creating a whole that is both poignant and ironic.” —Suzanne Chazin, The Miami Herald“[R]ich with the black humor, so black you laugh through your tears. . . . Marra is a writer’s writer: his language is original, his images mind-bending. This book stays in your heart.” —Elizabeth Birkelund, author of The Runaway Wife, The Miami Herald