Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips
Published by Knopf on May 14, 2019
my rating: ★★★★.5
Goodreads avg: 3.90 (as of 2020-08-02)
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One hand came up to press on her sternum. Her heart hurt. If Marina could peel off her left breast, crack back her ribs, and grip that muscular organ to settle it, she would.
Let me start off by noting that this novel is primarily literary fiction; while a mystery sits at its core, there is little-to-nothing in the way of thrills and readers are going to be disappointed expecting them. The setup itself is atypical: essentially a collection of interconnected short stories, each following a different character (all women, if I recall correctly?). Think There There by Tommy Orange or Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. Like these comparisons, Disappearing Earth also has a great deal of commentary to make on race, specifically racism impacting the indigenous peoples of Russia.
I was honestly shocked to discover that this was a debut. Phillips skillfully traces the web of connections surrounding the mystery of the two missing girls and was able to make me care so deeply about the majority of the characters in the single chapter she devotes to them. There were so many moments in this that felt like a punch to the gut, so many stories that made my heart ache. And all of this in less than 300 pages.
I’m so glad I read this and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for Phillips’ future works.
My current 2020 Women’s Prize Squad Longlist rankings:
- The Body Lies
- Disappearing Earth
- Girl, Woman, Other
- My Dark Vanessa
- Supper Club
- The Man Who Saw Everything
- My Name is Monster
- Ninth House
- The Mercies