The Tsar of Love and Techno


Publisher: Random House Canada
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.


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 WifeThe Miami Herald