The story takes place during the two periods of invasion of Chechnya by Russian Federation forces in 1994 and 1999 with the resulting massive civilian casualties by bombings and artillery strikes. This compelling first novel celebrates the miracles of human nature and the power of the human spirit of ordinary people torn apart by the war.
In a snow-covered village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as her father is abducted in the middle of the night by Russian soldiers. Their life-long friend and neighbour, Akhmed, has also been watching, and when he finds Havaa he knows of only one person who might be able to help. For tough-minded doctor Sonja Rabina, it's just another day of trying to keep her bombed-out, abandoned hospital going. When Akhmed arrives with Havaa, asking Sonja for shelter, she has no idea who the pair are and even less desire to take on yet more responsibilities and risk. But over the course of five extraordinary days, Sonja's world will shift on its axis, revealing the intricate pattern of connections that binds these three unlikely companions together and unexpectedly decides their fate. 'A Constellation of Vital Phenomena is simply spectacular' Ann Patchett