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Publisher Description

A stunning debut from an acclaimed travel writer, Disappearing Earth is about two sisters who go missing on the remote volcanic peninsula of Kamchatka.
Clues to the crime lie in the lives - and stories of violence and loss - of twelve women in the girls' rural Russian community. As the police quickly lose interest in the case, these women never stop searching and hoping.
Beautifully written, thought-provoking, intense and cleverly wrought, this is the first novel from a mesmerising new talent.

Fiction & Literature
11 July
Scribner UK
Simon and Schuster Australia Pty Ltd.

Customer Reviews

rhitc ,

From Russia with something

3.5 stars
This is the first novel by a young American woman, who is a self-confessed Russophile. She spent time in Moscow during her college years then, when she decided to write a novel, used the proceeds of her Fulbright scholarship to live for a time in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.
That's the largest city in the Kamchatka Peninsula: the bit of Russia that dangles like a giant seed pod from the eastern end of Siberia. Bordered by ocean on three sides and an impassable mountainous tundra to the north, Kamchatka is more an island than a peninsula. The only ways in and out are by sea and air. It's on the rim of fire so there's plenty of volcanos and hot springs too.
In chapter one, a male stranger entices two young daughters (ages 11 and 8) of a single mother into his car one sunny August day. An investigation and search ensues. In an interview, Ms Phillips admitted to a fascination with abducted girl stories and already had her story line in mind when she travelled to Russia.
The book unfolds in a series of chapters, one for each month that follows, describing the impact of the abduction on different local women, most of whom have little or no connection to the victim. The investigation is not the focus. The girls only reappear in the final chapter and not in the way you might expect. Rather, it's a book about the lived experience of women in a patriarchal, xenophobic society.
Ms Phillips brings all her American sensibilities to bear with the result there was little or no "Russianness" that I could discern. She implied that was her intention in the above-mentioned interview. I'm not sure why.
This intriguing book is well written but failed to galvanise any great interest from me, probably because I'm an old, white patriarchal kind of guy. Women will almost certainly like it more, but if you're after a mystery story, look elsewhere.

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