I really loved “Disappearing Earth,” Julia Phillips’ debut novel. The story is a series of short stories tied together about an abduction in the remote Siberian peninsula of Kamchatka.
The abduction stirs fear in the small, tightly community affecting each of its residents in different ways. The novel is a series of short stories about a string of characters and how this crime affects them directly.
Themes of loss, grief, fear, powerlessness, guilt and shame, family structure and roles, are interwoven into each chapter and each story that Phillips tells. The abduction brings up the losses in the lives of others in the story, a daughter who ran away, a husband who died in a tragic skiing accident, they are all interrelated despite being completely different circumstances.
The story also focuses a good deal on the differences of Russia now versus during Soviet rule. The different characters lament the “good old days” and the past compared the current Russian regime. It was a fascinating study on the way of life today in Russia in contrast to the Soviet Union.
Because of the numerous characters that revolve through the novel, it is not imperative to keep track of every person and their role, but rather focus on the way that each character views the abduction and how their lives are affected by it. Reading this story in this way will make for a better understanding without having to stress on every detail. I really enjoyed this novel and recommend it to anyone who likes thrillers or is interested on a new perspective on Russia in modern times.