“A superb debut—brilliant. Daring, nearly flawless. A crime jump-starts Disappearing Earth; the novel exposes the ways in which the women of Kamchatka are fragmented not only by [a] kidnapping, but by place [and] identity . . . Phillips describes the region with a cartographer’s precision and an ethnographer’s clarity, drawing an emblematic cast: a reindeer herder’s daughter at university in the capital; a policeman’s wife; the white mother of the missing sisters; a Native woman whose teenage daughter also disappeared. As the novel progresses, the links between [the] women coil tighter in surprising and troubling ways. There will be those eager to designate Disappearing Earth a thriller by focusing on the whodunit rather than what the tragedy reveals about the women in and around it. Phillips’ deep examination of loss and longing is a testament to the novel’s power.”

-Ivy Pochoda, The New York Times Book Review

How to Make a Great Book: Author Julia Phillips in conversation with Editor Robin Desser

Wednesday July 31, 2019
07:00 pm

Tags: Event


Grants entry for 1 plus $10 voucher towards any purchase at our bookstore.

Join writer Julia Phillips for a conversation with Disappearing Earth's editor, Robin Desser for insight into the process of how this book came to be one of the most celebrated and talked about new releases this year.




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.

​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.




Julia Phillips is the author of Disappearing Earth. She is a Fulbright fellow whose writing has appeared in Glimmer Train, The Atlantic, Slate, and The Moscow Times. She lives in Brooklyn.

Robin Desser is the Editorial Director at Alfred A. Knopf. Authors she’s worked with include Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, A.S. Byatt, Anne Carson, Sandra Cisneros, Edwidge Danticat, Nell Freudenberger, David Guterson, Cristina Henriquez, Alan Hollinghurst, Hope Jahren, Jhumpa Lahiri, Barry Lopez, Valeria Luiselli, Daniel Mendelsohn, Claire Messud, Steven Millhauser, Arundhati Roy, James Salter, Esmeralda Santiago, Jane Smiley, Patti Smith, Tracy K. Smith, Cheryl Strayed, and Abraham Verghese. Born in Brooklyn, she was awarded the Center for Fiction’s Maxwell E. Perkins Award in 2013.