Book Review: The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra
Official FC Rating:
By now, you may have read Charlotte’s excellent review of The Tsar of Love and Techno, so you’re aware that she absolutely loved it. While she was reading it, she highly recommended it to me as well, so I decided to make it my final read of 2015. Let me tell you, I was not disappointed!
At the end of 2015 this book could be found on nearly every “best of 2015” list, and for good reason- it is phenomenally written. Charlotte mentioned how she would occasionally have to put this novel down to pause and just take in the writing, and I found myself doing the same. The writing, and the storytelling, leaves a remarkable impression.
Set in Russia, The Tsar of Love and Techno, a collection of stories that weave together to become one, is about love, politics, the complicated nature of choice, and how a community is connected together over the course of generations. Anthony Marra brilliantly weaves the stories of an artist, a ballerina, a soldier, and many others by connecting them to a single object.
The stories were mind-blowing. I was literally in awe following the end of the first story and the end of the last story. Marra’s writing makes us question, “what really happened here, and what did it mean,” at various points in the novel. A talented writer often will allow a reader to have a certain amount of freedom to wonder and answer things for themselves- Marra has truly nailed this.
Unlike Charlotte, I hate to say that this, I didn’t love every single story in the collection. The first story absolutely blew me away, and the last story had the same kind of impact on me as the first. There were a few in between stories I enjoyed, but none impacted me quite the same as the first and last, unfortunately.
I am not well versed in Russian history, so I occasionally found myself confused at some of the references and googling quite a bit. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just made me want to know more. It also sparked great conversations between me and my partner. He helped me understand the differences between Trotsky and Lenin, and the conversation inspired me to read more about Marxism. I love it when a book makes you think and learn about things you may not have otherwise thought about.
Another big plus about this book was the cleverly inserted humor and references to pop culture. This book literally made me laugh and cry, which is not something that many books accomplish!
The Tsar of Love and Techno will have you all over the emotional spectrum- in a good way! It covers a broad array of themes and will challenge you to think differently. As many before me have said, this book is worth reading.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the Blogging For Books program in exchange for this review. All opinions are my own.