The Tsar of Love and Techno – Anthony Marra
The Last Word Review
Every now and again a writer comes along with a book that is just so outstanding yet you know it will never become a bestseller as Anthony Marra is one of those writers that despite his writing he will go un-noticed. With his latest book The Tsar of Love and Techno Marra gives us a selection of short stories yet each one is linked. I promise you this really is a brilliant book.
With the first story and in my view the best of them all is set in Leningrad in the year 1937. Stalin is setting out his stall and people are paying a very high price. A heart-breaking story and Roman Markin is narrator. Markin is an artist and is working underground. No ordinary artist as his employer is the state itself. He role as the artist is to ‘doctor’ pictures airbrushing individuals out and painting others in and making Stalin look picture perfect. It is during this time that something happens and is a story that will emotionally wash over you. The standard of writing here is something so incredible, it is powerful and moving.
The sheer beauty of this book is that to really appreciate them you must read all nine stories from start to finish in order only this way you will come to appreciate the flow of each unique story and how they all link together. A literary puzzle that is perfect it will be hard to find a finer collection of stories put together in one book.
The picture that is being painted of Russia here by Marra is one of sheer extreme and harshness yet the characters he brings to the reader is more akin to a major Russian author. There is something unique with every story as much as each is linked they shift from third to first person this can be difficult with a collection of stories together but credit to Marra he makes this work as much as his knowledge of Russia he did spend time in St Petersburg as a student.
As much as the stories may seem dark as a Russian winters night there is within warm humour that is welcome and needed. The Tsar of Love and Techno is an ambitious project that Marra has pulled off with the skill of a long standing bestselling writer. Writing is an art and Anthony Marra is a very skilled artist. This is a brilliant book and one of my books of 2016. I now desperately need to read his first book A Constellation of Vital Phenomena
Thank you to Naomi Mantin for a review copy.
The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra published by Hogarth Books on 4 August and is available through Waterstones.