A play for the end of the world A novel

Jai Chakrabarti

Book - 2021

"A dazzling debut novel--the story of a turbulent, unlikely romance, a harrowing account of the lasting horrors of the Second World War, and a searing examination of one man's search for forgiveness and acceptance"--

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FICTION/Chakraba Jai
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Subjects
Genres
Love stories
Historical fiction
Published
New York : Alfred A. Knopf 2021.
Edition
First edition
Language
English
Physical Description
x, 286 pages ; 25 cm
ISBN
9780525658924
0525658920
Main Author
Jai Chakrabarti (author)
Review by Booklist Reviews

Using a 1942 performance of Rabindranath Tagore's play The Post Office by children in a Warsaw orphanage on the precipice of being transported to a Nazi death camp as a jumping off point, Chakrabarti's absorbing debut is an ode to art, friendship, and love. Jaryk and Misha, the only two survivors from the orphanage, found each other after the war. Seen as an act of resistance, the play is now being performed decades later in a small village in India volatile with political unrest. Misha is in India at the request of the professor in charge of the production. When Jaryk receives word that Misha has died and he must come collect his remains, he has no choice but to go even though it means leaving behind his love Lucy, who, unbeknownst to him, is pregnant. Chakrabarti's characters are sharply drawn and alluring, and Jaryk's survivor's guilt is palpable. At its heart this is a love story, and literary readers not used to cheering for a happy ending may find themselves doing just that. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

In 1972, Holocaust survivor Jaryk Smith and Southerner Lucy Gardener are just-arrived New Yorkers who've fallen in love when Jaryk learns that his best friend has died mysteriously in rural India. When he goes to collect the ashes, he gets embroiled in local politics, even joining in plans to protest the government by staging a play he saw performed as Nazi resistance in Warsaw. How does he balance past and present, politics and his love of Lucy? Pushcart, O. Henry, and Best American Short stories honoree Chakrabarti crafts an ambitious debut novel. Copyright 2021 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

The historical performance of a Tagore play by a group of children in a 1942 Warsaw Ghetto orphanage inspired this arresting debut from Chakrabarti. In a prologue, nine-year-old Jaryk and his best friend, Misha, prepare to perform Tagore's Dak Ghar, which is about a group of terminally ill children and was chosen by the orphanage's teacher as a way to prepare for the horrors to come. Chakrabarti then jumps to 1972, when Jaryk flies from his home in New York City to Calcutta to retrieve Misha's remains from a small village. Misha was there to stage a 30th-anniversary production of Dak Ghar, which also resonates with those impacted by the Bangladeshi refugee crisis. Details of the children's doomed deportation from the orphanage to Treblinka emerge, along with the story of how Jaryk had escaped from the S.S. and survived in the woods with skills Misha had taught him. In India, Jaryk gets swept up in the production Misha left behind, oblivious of the turbulent local politics that drove the play's production, and which might also be behind Misha's death. Chakrabarti moves the reader seamlessly through the nonlinear narrative and brilliantly conveys Jaryk's survivor's guilt from WWII, which is doubled by the loss of Misha. This trenchant story will move readers. Agent: Julie Stevenson, Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents. (Sept.) Copyright 2021 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A Warsaw Ghetto survivor in 1970s New York leaves a blossoming romance to travel to India and collect the ashes of his oldest friend who died there in a small Eastern village under mysterious circumstances.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

"A dazzling debut novel--the story of a turbulent, unlikely romance, a harrowing account of the lasting horrors of the Second World War, and a searing examination of one man's search for forgiveness and acceptance"--

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A dazzling novel—set in early 1970's New York and rural India—the story of a turbulent, unlikely romance, a harrowing account of the lasting horrors of World War II, and a searing examination of one man's search for forgiveness and acceptance.“Looks deeply at the echoes and overlaps among art, resistance, love, and history ... an impressive debut.” —Meg Wolitzer, best-selling author of The Female PersuasionNew York City, 1972. Jaryk Smith, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, and Lucy Gardner, a southerner, newly arrived in the city, are in the first bloom of love when they receive word that Jaryk's oldest friend has died under mysterious circumstances in a rural village in eastern India. Travelling there alone to collect his friend's ashes, Jaryk soon finds himself enmeshed in the chaos of local politics and efforts to stage a play in protest against the government—the same play that he performed as a child in Warsaw as an act of resistance against the Nazis. Torn between the survivor's guilt he has carried for decades and his feelings for Lucy (who, unbeknownst to him, is pregnant with his child), Jaryk must decide how to honor both the past and the present, and how to accept a happiness he is not sure he deserves. An unforgettable love story, a provocative exploration of the role of art in times of political upheaval, and a deeply moving reminder of the power of the past to shape the present, A Play for the End of the World is a remarkable debut from an exciting new voice in fiction.