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Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips (HC)

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips (HC)

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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 investigation turns up nothing. Echoes of the disappearance reverberate across a tightly woven community, with the fear and loss felt most deeply among its women.

Taking us through a year in Kamchatka,
Disappearing Earth enters with astonishing emotional acuity the worlds of a cast of richly drawn characters, all connected by the crime: a witness, a neighbor, a detective, a mother. We are transported to vistas of rugged beauty--densely wooded forests, open expanses of tundra, soaring volcanoes, and the glassy seas that border Japan and Alaska--and into a region as complex as it is alluring, where social and ethnic tensions have long simmered, and where outsiders are often the first to be accused.

In a story as propulsive as it is emotionally engaging, and through a young writer's virtuosic feat of empathy and imagination, this powerful novel brings us to a new understanding of the intricate bonds of family and community, in a Russia unlike any we have seen before.


“A superb debut—brilliant. Daring, nearly flawless. A crime jump-starts Disappearing Earth; the novel exposes the ways in which the women of Kamchatka are fragmented not only by [a] kidnapping, but by place [and] identity . . . Phillips describes the region with a cartographer’s precision and an ethnographer’s clarity, drawing an emblematic cast . . . There will be those eager to designate Disappearing Earth a thriller by focusing on the whodunit rather than what the tragedy reveals about the women in and around it. Phillips’ deep examination of loss and longing is a testament to the novel’s power.” Ivy Pochoda, The New York Times Book Review

“Engrossing: an auspicious debut novel, a literary whodunit set in a distinctly foreign land. Phillips immerses readers in Kamchatka—it’s in the rich, humane characterizations; the plot’s gentle surprises; the reminders of the past; the rendering of the landscape. Rarely has a novel so fully brought to life a place most couldn’t pretend to know. Phillips plots with methodical flair; the depth of her storytelling prowess reveals itself . . .
Disappearing Earth wades through darkness with heart.” Entertainment Weekly

“Stunning . . . Phillips lets her experience [in Kamchatka] shimmer lightly in details [of] beautifully delineated scenes—situations strange in their specificities and universal in their familiarity. The mystery is worth reading until the very end.” — NPR

“A couple of days ago, I felt like I needed to read a book that would submerge me somewhere beautiful, severe, isolated, unknown to me. Then this novel, Disappearing Earth, set in far eastern Russia, in the world’s second largest city that’s inaccessible by land, came like magic.” —Jia Tolentino, on Twitter

Hardcover Edition
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 978-1984892225
Pages: 432