“Truly impressive . . .transportive prose . . . A must-read.” —Jamie Chornoby
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.
“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.”
— Bethanne Patrick, NPR
Julia Phillips is a Fulbright Fellow whose writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, The Moscow Times, and The Paris Review. She lives in Brooklyn.