The Circular Tsar

Back in the USSR with a story of art, censorship, drugs, and the government. Following the stories of people connected to the artwork censored at the introduction, The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra weaves a tale that depicts some universals of the trails humanity endures through the ages.

Soviet Russia in the 1930s was a dangerous place for free expression as the government was an ultimate power. When an artist in charge of censorship for the government decides to both leave a portion of a person fated to be erased from history and insert a version of his governmentally sanctioned censored brother into each painting he alters, he alters the course of events for those who follow after him, which includes the granddaughter of the censored ballerina, a gangster, and soldier waiting to listen to his brother’s mixtape.

The narrative was composed of interesting interconnecting vignettes of life of those in a small town in Soviet Russia from its USSR days to more contemporary times. There were several times throughout the narrative where I became confused as to who was “speaking,” particularly with the male characters. The story comes full circle with the censorship introduced at the beginning of the book and Vladimir coming to a realization of what his artist uncle meant about his father always being in the background, watching him. The centrality of art and censorship in Soviet life was intriguing to read about through these stories as it shows the reality behind what governments willingly do to their citizens and how citizens deal with the governmental intervention into their lives.

Overall, I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.

*I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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