Disappearing Earth: A novel

May 16, 2019 - Comment

“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

“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 11 – 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.