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.
National Book Critics Choice Award Finalist in Fiction Kirkus Reviews Best Fiction Books of 2015 Praise for The Tsar of Love and Techno : "[E]xtraordinary... Each story is a gem in itself. But the book is greater than its parts, an almost unbearably moving exploration of the importance of love, the pull of family, the uses and misuses of history, and the need to reclaim the past by understanding who you really are and what really happened...He starts this miracle of a book by showing us how a system can erase the past, the truth, even its citizens. He ends by demonstrating, through his courageous, flawed, deeply human characters, how individual people can restore the things that have been taken away. And if you've been worrying that you've lost your faith in the emotionally transformative power of fiction - Mr. Marra will restore that, too." -Sarah Lyall, The New York Times "Remarkable...Marra is a gifted writer with the energy and the ambition to explore the lives of characters whose experiences and whose psyches might seem, until we read his work, so distant from our own. Reading his work is like watching the restoration - the reappearance, on the page - of those whom history has erased." - Francine Prose, Washington Post "This book will burn itself into your heart. It's a collection of interlocking short stories that stand alone but also fit together, piece by delicate piece, to form an astonishing whole whose artfulness becomes increasingly clear as it goes on. The Tsar of Love and Techno swoops around in time and place, beginning in Stalinist Russia and ending somewhere in outer space in the near future. It's funny, moving and beautiful, the perfect thing to read." - New York Times "Audacious... [an] ambitious and fearless [book], one that offers so much to enjoy and admire...Marra's far-ranging, risky and explicitly political book marks him as a writer with an original, even singular sensibility." - New York Times Book Review "Genius...what makes this (dare I say) masterpiece so stunning is Marra's clear love for his subject and insistence on infusing beauty into even the darkest places...It's nothing short of extraordinary." - San Francisco Chronicle "Powerful...[an] ingenious book." - Wall Street Journal