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 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.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Pay close attention as you enter Julia Phillips’ impressive and complex novel set on Kamchatka, the gorgeously remote Russian peninsula. Otherwise, you may find yourself as lost as the two young girls whose kidnapping sets off the kaleidoscopic story that follows. Fortunately, Phillips rewards our attention with her butterfly-effect examination of that mysterious unsolved crime and its many surprising reverberations throughout the community. It all adds up to a rich, compassionate portrait of a changing culture and landscape.
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.
Not the ending I wanted
No spoilers. Excellent book all but how the author decided to end it.
I struggled to finish this book. The whole time I was flipping back to the list of characters which didn't bother me much but on top of that, the story was just boring. I thought maybe there would be a crazy twist at the end or something but it just kind of ended without much of an explanation. It was just depressing and felt like a waste of time/money.
Best I've read in a long while...
I'll be remembering this beautifully written story. The chapters, titled as months, could easily stand alone as short stories. Together, they weave together to form a most excellent book. I'll be looking for more from this author.