Book review: The Tsar of Love and Techno, by Anthony Marra

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. Goodreads

..our lives are all dreams – as real to us as they are meaningless to everyone else.

I’ve loved A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, and if you haven’t read the book, I suggest you read it. It’s beautiful, haunting, tragic, and sad; it’s enough to give you a book hangover for a couple of days, thinking about the what ifs. I’m always tempted to read another book from an author that I had enjoyed, so obviously it’s not surprising for me to pick up this book.

Honestly, I’m a bit sceptical about reading collection of short stories, I haven’t had a good experience with it for quite some time (not horrible, just don’t quite enjoy short stories), but this book’s cover just looks so beautiful that I’m so captivated. There’s something about the title and the cassette that reels you in.

TLDR; I was not disappointed.

I am both amazed and not okay about this book and the stories in it. It was just so unpredictable but fun, because as you read from one stories to the other, you’re doing this game with yourself trying to find the small clues that could point you to the connection between the characters in the story that you’re reading with the other characters you’ve read in the stories before that.

Each story is unpredictable, because you went from one story which is just so on edge to the next story which is just so sad and heartbreaking. But that’s what is enjoyable about the stories, that you don’t know what you’re in for, that it didn’t became predictable (much like any other short stories I’ve read before, they’re just exhausting). For a book compiled with short stories going around the more or less same theme, this was definitely not boring.

Poignant and evocative.

And obviously, you can’t miss the heartbreaking tone of Anthony Marra in telling the stories of his characters, you’re feeling things for them. I felt the pain, the happiness, the anger, the frustration, the lost for each and every characters in the story. And when you’re finished, you’re just not okay, because you want more, you needed to know about the characters; the story just couldn’t end like that, could it? Gosh, this definitely was such an evocative book for me.

See, the amazing thing about the characters are their depth, or the depth that the author brought us into. They were both complicated and simple that you don’t know what you should be feeling for them. You can’t really hate them, but you can’t really favour them either; but you feel for them, you have this connection with them as you read their stories, as if these people were real and you’re reading their biographies.

The characters are definitely one of the factors that made this book and the stories within it special and enjoyable.

Are you kidding me? Of course this is a total recommend! Trust me, even if you’re not a big fan of short stories, you’ll like this one.

Title: The Tsar of Love and Techno

Author: Anthony Marra

Genre: Cultural, Fiction, Historical fiction, Literary Fiction, Short stories


Goodreads link


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