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Disappearing Earth
Cover of Disappearing Earth
Disappearing Earth
A novel
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One of The New York Times 10 Best Books of the YearNational Book Award FinalistFinalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard PrizeFinalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel...
One of The New York Times 10 Best Books of the YearNational Book Award FinalistFinalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard PrizeFinalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel...
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Description-

  • One of The New York Times 10 Best Books of the Year

    National Book Award Finalist
    Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize
    Finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize
    Finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award 

    National Best Seller

    "Splendidly imagined . . . Thrilling" —Simon Winchester
    "A genuine masterpiece" —Gary Shteyngart

    Spellbinding, moving—evoking a fascinating region on the other side of the world—this suspenseful and haunting story announces the debut of a profoundly gifted writer.


    One August afternoon, on the shoreline of the Kamchatka peninsula at the northeastern edge of Russia, two girls—sisters, eight and eleven—go missing. In the ensuing weeks, then months, the police...
 

Awards-

Excerpts-

  • From the book October

    "We forgot the tent," Max said, turning to Katya. The beam of her flashlight flattened his features. His face was a white mask of distress. The forest around them was black, because they'd left Petropavlovsk so late—his last-minute packing, his bad directions. His fault.

    In the harsh light, he was nearly not beautiful anymore. Cheek­bones erased, chin cleft illuminated, lips parted, he looked wide-eyed into the glare. Katya and Max had been together since August and as of September were officially in love. Yet the tent. Disgust rip­pled through her. "You're not serious," she said. She caught the tail of her repulsion before it passed; she had to hold on to it, a snake in the hand, otherwise she would forgive him too soon.

    "It's not here."

    Katya handed him the flashlight and started to dig through the trunk. Shadows lengthened and contracted against their things: sacks of food, sleeping bags, two foam mats. A folded tarp to line the tent floor. Loose towels for the hot springs, a couple folding chairs, rolled trash bags that unraveled as she shoved them. Katya should have packed the car herself, instead of watching his body flex in the rear­view mirror this evening. Pots clanked somewhere deep in the mess.

    "Max!" she said. "How!"

    "We can sleep outside," he said. "It's not that cold." She stared back at his outline above the circle of light. "We can sleep in the car," he said.

    "Magnificent." We forgot, he said, we, as if they together kept one tent in one closet of one shared home. As if they jointly made these mishaps. As if she had not needed to leave the port early this after­noon, drive twenty minutes south through the city to shower and change at her own place, drive thirty-five minutes north to get to his apartment complex on time, then wait eighteen long minutes in his parking lot for him to come out.

    He'd told her earlier in the week he would bring his tent. His car, a dinky Nissan, didn't have four-wheel drive, so they were taking hers, and he had loaded such a stack of stuff into the trunk—enough to merit a second run up to his apartment, a return trip with his arms full—that Katya told herself he had it handled. Instead of checking she tuned her car radio to local news of a shop robbery, an approach­ing cyclone, another call for those two little girls. She gripped her steering wheel. Once Max finally climbed into the passenger seat, she said, "That's everything?"

    Nodding, he leaned to kiss her. "Let's get going. Take me away," he said then. She checked the time (forty-one minutes late) and shifted into reverse.

    Now they were going to spend the night in her mini SUV. Depend­able as the Suzuki was, bringing them these four hours north of the city over roads that turned from asphalt to gravel to dirt, it made terrible sleeping quarters. Two doors, two narrow rows of seats, no legroom. The gearshift would separate them from each other. Nei­ther of them would have space to lie down.

    Katya sighed and Max's shoulders bowed in response. She wanted to touch those shoulders. "It's okay," she said. Her disgust slithered off to wait for his next error. "It's all right, bear cub, it happens. Would you gather us some wood?"

    Once the flashlight was off bobbing between trees, Katya moved her car over the flattened patch of weeds where a tent was meant to be staked. The mistake had been hers in not asking earlier... next time they'd do better. Max was simply the sort of person, like so many others, whom she had to supervise.

    Soil shifted under her tires. She didn't turn the headlights back on. Slowly, her eyes were...

About the Author-

  • Julia Phillips is a Fulbright Fellow whose writing has appeared in The New York TimesThe AtlanticThe Moscow Times, and The Paris Review. She lives in Brooklyn.

Reviews-

  • Library Journal

    There's big in-house excitement for this debut about the abduction of two young sisters as they wander Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula, with the narrative traveling month by month over a full year to investigate the consequences for the tight-knit if ethnically tense community. Phillips spent a Fulbright year on Kamchatka; with a 125,000-copy first printing.

    Copyright 1 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Kirkus

    February 1, 2019
    A year in the lives of women and girls on an isolated peninsula in northeastern Russia opens with a chilling crime.In the first chapter of Phillips' immersive, impressive, and strikingly original debut, we meet sisters Alyona and Sophia, ages 11 and 8, amusing themselves one August afternoon on the rocky shoreline of a public beach on the waterfront of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, a city on Russia's remote Kamchatka peninsula. They are offered a ride home by a seemingly kind stranger. After he drives right past the intersection that leads to the apartment they share with their mother, they disappear from their previous lives and, to a large extent, from the narrative. The rest of the book is a series of linked stories about a number of different women on the peninsula, all with the shadow of the missing girls hanging over them as a year goes by since their disappearance. Another young girl with a single mom loses her best friend to new restrictions imposed by the other girl's anxious mother. The daughter of a reindeer herder from the north, at college in the city, finds her controlling boyfriend clamping down harder than ever. In a provincial town, members of a family whose teenage daughter disappeared four years earlier are troubled by the similarities and differences between their case and this one. The book opens with both a character list and a map--you'll be looking at both often as you find your footing and submerge ever more deeply in this world, which is both so different from and so much like our own. As the connections between the stories pile up and tighten, you start to worry--will we ever get closure about the girls? Yes, we will. And you'll want to start over and read it again, once you know.An unusual, cleverly constructed thriller that is also a deep dive into the culture of a place many Americans have probably never heard of, illuminating issues of race, culture, sexual attraction, and the transition from the U.S.S.R. to post-Soviet Russia.

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from March 4, 2019
    In the opening chapter of Phillips’s exceptional and suspenseful debut, two sisters—Sofia, 8, and Alyona, 11—vanish from a beach on the Kamchatka Peninsula in northeastern Russia, and their disappearance sends ripples throughout the close-knit community. The subsequent 12 chapters, taking place during the months over the following year, chart the impact of the potential kidnapping—and the destructive effect of longing and loss—and play out in a series of interconnected and equally riveting stories about others in the surrounding area. “April” peeks into the day-to-day of a policeman’s restless wife, who, while on maternity leave, is haunted by missed opportunities and “ things darker, stranger, out of bounds.” In “May,” shrewlike Oksana, the abduction’s only witness, severs ties with a colleague after the colleague’s absentminded husband loses Oksana’s beloved dog. The penultimate chapter unites some of the book’s disparate threads, and follows Sofia and Alyona’s anxious and emotionally ravaged mother, Marina, as she meets a photographer at a solstice festival who uncovers a potential link to an earlier unsolved missing-persons case and an important clue about who the perpetrator of both crimes might be. The discovery leads to a truly nail-biting climax and the novel’s shocking conclusion that even eagle-eyed readers might not see coming. Phillips’s exquisite descriptions of the desolate landscape and the “empty, rolling earth” are masterful throughout, as is her skill at crafting a complex and genuinely addictive whodunit. This novel signals the arrival of a mighty talent. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, WME Entertainment.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from April 15, 2019
    The volcano-spiked Kamchatka Peninsula in Far East Russia, where the tundra still supports herds of reindeer and the various Native groups who depend on them, is the evocative setting of Phillips' accomplished and gripping episodic novel. In the region's largest city, Petropavlovsk-Kamschatsky, Russians are disparaging of Natives and migrant workers, and nearly everyone struggles with limited means and options. That's why researcher Oksana notices the clean, new car carrying a man and two young, bird-boned Russian girls and reports her sighting when news breaks that two sisters, living with their single mother, a journalist, are missing. This abduction forms the hub of Phillips' atmospheric drama of shock and despair, each radiating spoke the story of a woman affected by the painful mystery, including a customs officer, a detective's lonely wife, a student, and the head of a village cultural center whose 18-year-old daughter has also vanished. In fresh and unpredictable scenes depicting broken friendships and failed marriages, strained family gatherings, drunken sauna parties, a camping trip, and rehearsals of a Native dance troupe, Phillips' spellbinding prose is saturated with sensuous nuance and emotional intensity as she subtly traces the shadows of Russia's past and illuminates today's daunting complexities of gender and identity, expectations and longing.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

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    Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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