Anthony Marra’s new book, The Tsar of Love and Techno is, without a doubt, one of our favorite reads of 2015. Marra’s latest is an interwoven collection of short stories that reads like a novel; as each seemingly disparate chapter unfurls, you find its relation to the last through interlocking people, objects, and places.
Spanning decades in tumultuous Russia, the book tells stories of the resiliency of the human spirit and the ability to create and appreciate art, even in the most dire circumstances. Anthony Marra paints a picture of humanity with honesty, grace, and humor (you’ll definitely laugh out loud in parts). We might love this book even more than his smash-hit debut, A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, but it’s a close call.
You can imagine how excited we were to sit down with Anthony Marra, talk to him about his book, and ultimately convince him to read us a passage from the title story, “The Tsar of Love and Techno.” (If you’d like to read along, it’s on page 193.) Here’s Marra’s introduction to the passage:
“This describes the first date that a character named Kolya has with Galina. Both of them are main characters that weave through some of these stories. It describes their first date and I love it because they’re walking around this place called Lake Mercury. This lake is in a town that is big on nickel mining, and Lake Mercury is so polluted with exotic chemicals that it doesn’t freeze, even in the middle of February. It’s surrounded by smokestacks called the twelve apostles. It seems like one of the grimmer places on earth. I love this little scene because Kolya invites Galina for a walk around this lake for their first date, and despite being in this rather unromantic climate, there’s an ethereal moment they have together.”