A conversation with Anthony Marra, the 2014 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction winner for A Constellation of Vital Phenomena, opens the fall programming of Case Western Reserve University's Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities.

The hour-long free and public event begins at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 10, in Clark Hall, room 309, 11130 Bellflower Rd., Cleveland.

Set in war-torn Chechnya in 2004, Marra’s story is about the survival of a young girl, Havaa, whose father is kidnapped at night and taken to an unknown location by Russian soldiers. Fearing he has died, Havaa is rescued and taken to the only place a friend of her father’s thinks is safe for the child—a hospital.

As the story dramatically weaves in and out of the past, revealing the lives of the various characters, Marra recreates the struggles for survival that Chechnya’s people face daily.

"Mr. Marra’s novel can be sickening reading," writes Dwight Garner in a New York Times review of the book. "Russian forces have frequently abducted and tortured anyone suspected of aiding Chechen separatists."

Garner also describes Marra: "At heart he’s a satirist, a lover not a fighter," who reminds him of Joseph Heller, author of Catch-22.

Marra’s novel, which began as a short story, is being translated into more than a dozen languages. The author has an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is a Jones Lecturer in Fiction at Stanford University.

In addition to winning the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, Marra also has earned recognition of a Whiting Award, a Pushcart Prize, The Atlantic’s Student Writing Contest and the Narrative Prize. His work has appeared in Best American Non-Required Reading 2012.

Screening of The Square

Baker-Nord’s event calendar also features a screening of The Square (2013), an Oscar nominee for "Best Documentary." The film takes the viewer into the emotional heart of the Egyptian Revolution, offering an account of young people struggling to create a society with a conscience and who are caught in a turmoil of forces. Pete Moore, CWRU associate professor of political science and a specialist in the politics of the Middle East, will introduce the free and public showing of the film at 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 22, in the Wolstein Building Auditorium, 2103 Cornell Rd., Cleveland.

Seating is limited, and reservations are recommended for both events.  Visit http://humanities.case.edu/ or contact Maggie Kaminiski at the center by calling 216.368.2242 or emailing humanities@case.edu.