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A Play for the End of the World

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A dazzling debut 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 the Second World War, and a searing examination of one man's search for forgiveness and acceptance. New York City, 1972. Jaryk Smith, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, and Lucy Gardner, a southerner, newly arrived in A dazzling debut 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 the Second World War, and a searing examination of one man's search for forgiveness and acceptance. New 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.


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A dazzling debut 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 the Second World War, and a searing examination of one man's search for forgiveness and acceptance. New York City, 1972. Jaryk Smith, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, and Lucy Gardner, a southerner, newly arrived in A dazzling debut 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 the Second World War, and a searing examination of one man's search for forgiveness and acceptance. New 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.

30 review for A Play for the End of the World

  1. 5 out of 5

    James Beggarly

    Thanks to Edelweiss and Knopf for the ebook. A beautiful love story where nothing seems to come easily. Jaryk, who as a child in an orphanage in Warsaw is able to survive on his own as everyone he knows, except his great friend Misha, perishes in the camps. In 1971, in Manhattan, he starts an affair with Lucy, a one time musical student who now works in an employment office. As close as they get, the horrors of Jaryk’s past keep them from full intimacy. When Misha passes away while helping to st Thanks to Edelweiss and Knopf for the ebook. A beautiful love story where nothing seems to come easily. Jaryk, who as a child in an orphanage in Warsaw is able to survive on his own as everyone he knows, except his great friend Misha, perishes in the camps. In 1971, in Manhattan, he starts an affair with Lucy, a one time musical student who now works in an employment office. As close as they get, the horrors of Jaryk’s past keep them from full intimacy. When Misha passes away while helping to stage a political play in India, the same play they staged at the orphanage in Warsaw thirty years before, Jaryk flies to India to take his place, endangering his relationship with Lucy, who flies after him to try and bring him back, and maybe even his own life. But Jaryk needs to step out of the shadows of his past and help a community like so many have helped him in the past if he is to have any chance of an open and true life with Lucy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lin Salisbury

    Jai Chakrabarti’s A PLAY FOR THE END OF THE WORLD is a moving novel about survival guilt and the emotional cost of war, as well as the power of art and love to heal. In New York City 1972, Jaryk Smith, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, and Lucy Gardener, a free-spirited southerner newly arrived to the city, fall in love and are just opening up to each other when Jaryk’s oldest childhood friend unexpectedly dies in India. Jaryk travels there to retrieve his ashes and soon finds himself enmeshed in Jai Chakrabarti’s A PLAY FOR THE END OF THE WORLD is a moving novel about survival guilt and the emotional cost of war, as well as the power of art and love to heal. In New York City 1972, Jaryk Smith, a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto, and Lucy Gardener, a free-spirited southerner newly arrived to the city, fall in love and are just opening up to each other when Jaryk’s oldest childhood friend unexpectedly dies in India. Jaryk travels there to retrieve his ashes and soon finds himself enmeshed in the political turmoil of the newly arrived refugees from Bangladesh. His friend, Misha had gone there to help produce a play in protest of the government – a play that Jaryk and Misha had performed as children in the ghetto – and one that Jaryk feels compelled to stay in India to produce in memory of his friend. Lucy knows little of Jaryk’s past and feels the sting of rejection when he refuses to return home to her. Stuck between his past and his future, Jaryk must make a courageous decision. At the center of the novel is a play written by Tagore, Dak Ghar, performed by the children in the ghetto, and directed by their loving caregiver as a way to prepare the children for a future they could not comprehend, while in India, the children performing the play are a pawn in the hands of a professor with political motivations. Chakrabarti has a keen sense of timing – oscillating the storyline backward and forward to reveal Jaryk’s motivation, his heart-wrenching past, and his fear of moving into a future as a sole survivor of the orphanage where his story began. A PLAY FOR THE END OF THE WORLD is a provocative meditation on love, war, politics, and art. I highly recommend it for fans of historical fiction. Listen to my interview with Jai Chakrabarti on September 23 at 7:00 pm on Superior Reads, 90.7 Grand Marais, or on the web at www.wtip.org.

  3. 4 out of 5

    The Nerd Daily

    Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Beth Mowbray A Play for the End of the World is a novel in which many stories are intertwined: those of love and loss, hope and guilt, growth and sacrifice. Perhaps it is most accurately described as an achingly human novel. Readers will feel deeply for Jaryk through his struggle to find happiness in the wake of grief and guilt; will wish for him a way to reconcile the past with the present. Just as Jaryk reflects back while trying to move forwar Originally published on The Nerd Daily | Review by Beth Mowbray A Play for the End of the World is a novel in which many stories are intertwined: those of love and loss, hope and guilt, growth and sacrifice. Perhaps it is most accurately described as an achingly human novel. Readers will feel deeply for Jaryk through his struggle to find happiness in the wake of grief and guilt; will wish for him a way to reconcile the past with the present. Just as Jaryk reflects back while trying to move forward, Chakrabarti explores what it means to survive and contemplates how the past has an uncanny way of echoing into the future. He also centres how powerfully art resonates, how it influences and encourages life even in the most difficult of times … perhaps most importantly during these times. Chakrabarti has crafted a brilliantly moving debut, a quiet yet insistent imagining that draws on real life to examine issues which are relevant across the globe. A Play for the End of the World is one of those beautifully deceptive pieces of writing that is easy to glide through, but which carries such weight it leaves the mind turning long after the book is finished. Read the FULL REVIEW on The Nerd Daily

  4. 5 out of 5

    Marcie Tennen

    A novel set in New York and India in the 1970’s. The book involves an unlikely love story and becoming enmeshed in a political upheaval in Calcutta. With the back story about survivors guilt, this is a very moving and intense book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    3.5 stars for the slow and disjointed start, and 4 stars for the more emotional finish. Unusual story tying in the Holocaust and political unrest in India, with some deeply meaningful relationships. But not one of my favorites.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Amanda ~lilacsandliterature

    Thank you to @aaknopf for the gifted advanced copy! ⁣ This is the type of novel I LOVE. So many wonderfully written characters, bouncing back and forth between years and locations, and such an amazing story that I couldn’t put it down. ⁣ ⁣ In 1972, Jaryk Smith who is a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto meets Lucy Gardner, a southerner, in New York City. As their love story begins, an old friend passes away in India and Jaryk must make the journey to recover his ashes. While there, Jaryk finds himself th Thank you to @aaknopf for the gifted advanced copy! ⁣ This is the type of novel I LOVE. So many wonderfully written characters, bouncing back and forth between years and locations, and such an amazing story that I couldn’t put it down. ⁣ ⁣ In 1972, Jaryk Smith who is a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto meets Lucy Gardner, a southerner, in New York City. As their love story begins, an old friend passes away in India and Jaryk must make the journey to recover his ashes. While there, Jaryk finds himself thrust onto center stage to help the local children perform the same play he himself acted in in Warsaw, 1942. ⁣ ⁣ This was such a beautifully written novel with amazing characters that will stay with me. I loved how deep Jaryk and Lucy’s love runs but that it was also the victim of trauma and secrets. We learn so much about Jaryk’s time at the orphanage as a child, how he was able to make it out alive when so many of his friends did not, and how politics inform so many decisions and outcomes. ⁣ ⁣ I cannot recommend this book enough. It was heartbreaking, beautiful, and deeply moving. Do not miss this one! I said in my stories yesterday that I realize @goodreads is not the end all be all by any means, but it does have a 4.5 rating so I know I’m not alone! Historical fiction fans (and even if you’re not…) will love this story.⁣ ⁣ TW: Holocaust, children’s death, imprisonment⁣ ⁣ #aplayfortheendoftheworld

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    4.5 rounded up to 5. This was unexpectedly so beautiful.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I really enjoyed this book. It has a bit of a slow start but is beautifully written to bounce between different times and places. The differing narrator points of view keep the story fresh. Some might suspect from the title that it is a sad book and while there are parts where this is true, the book itself is not sad. The characters are well built and it is an incredibly immersive read.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Beth M.

    4.5⭐️ Check out a sneak peek below, then head on over to www.thenerddaily.com for the full book review! “A Play for the End of the World is a novel in which many stories are intertwined: those of love and loss, hope and guilt, growth and sacrifice. Perhaps it is most accurately described as an achingly human novel. Readers will feel deeply for Jaryk through his struggle to find happiness in the wake of grief and guilt; will wish for him a way to reconcile the past with the present. Just as Jaryk r 4.5⭐️ Check out a sneak peek below, then head on over to www.thenerddaily.com for the full book review! “A Play for the End of the World is a novel in which many stories are intertwined: those of love and loss, hope and guilt, growth and sacrifice. Perhaps it is most accurately described as an achingly human novel. Readers will feel deeply for Jaryk through his struggle to find happiness in the wake of grief and guilt; will wish for him a way to reconcile the past with the present. Just as Jaryk reflects back while trying to move forward, Chakrabarti explores what it means to survive and contemplates how the past has an uncanny way of echoing into the future. He also centres how powerfully art resonates, how it influences and encourages life even in the most difficult of times … perhaps most importantly during these times.” Thanks to the publisher for gifting me an advance copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions expressed here are entirely my own.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kelly

    A story about a play that brings a Holocaust survivor from Warsaw full circle to India by way of New York City shouldn't work - but it does, in Jai Chakrabarti's A Play for the End of the World. For so long, historical fiction that addresses World War II has been focused on the war itself, often with plucky heroines. The world definitely needs more heroines, but it also needs murky reality, which is precisely what Chakrabarti gives us with his protagonist, Jaryk. As a young boy Jaryk was an orph A story about a play that brings a Holocaust survivor from Warsaw full circle to India by way of New York City shouldn't work - but it does, in Jai Chakrabarti's A Play for the End of the World. For so long, historical fiction that addresses World War II has been focused on the war itself, often with plucky heroines. The world definitely needs more heroines, but it also needs murky reality, which is precisely what Chakrabarti gives us with his protagonist, Jaryk. As a young boy Jaryk was an orphan living under the guidance of Pan Doktor, who has the children in his care perform a play called The Post Office, as the Germans approach and the gas chambers await. But Jaryk is able to survive by escaping the train and foraging, and surviving, based on skills his mentor Misha taught him. He and Misha are the only ones that survive from the home, and after Misha dies bringing the play back to life in a part of India that is alive with political strife, Jaryk feels he has no choice but to follow in Misha's footsteps to India. And while he only intends to bring back his friend's remains, he finds himself drawn to the village community that is trying to survive while their country tries to take everything from them. The only problem for Jaryk is that Lucy waits back home, and she's given him a whole new perspective on life as well. The challenge Jaryk faces is survivor's guilt, can he really be happy with Lucy and the family they could have together when he constantly lives with the idea that he lived when everyone else he considered family, perished? In many ways this mental battle is WAY harder to address in a novel than the physical survival of the war, and this story does a brilliant job of approaching it. The story is messy, Jaryk is conflicted, Lucy is frustrated and the ending may be more ambiguous than the reader wants (raises hand). But it's hard to live with that, and it's hard to put yourself in the shoes of someone who has survived as much as Jaryk has. I do feel that the story gets a little bogged down as Jaryk spends time in India trying to figure who, what and where he wants to be, but all in all this is a fantastic book with beautiful storytelling.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Trish Ryan

    A Play for the End of the World is a beautiful, surprising novel filled with both harsh reality and unexpected moments of hope. As another reviewer noted, it shouldn’t work, but it does. I especially appreciated the writing - it sweeps you up into the story and even though I was never entirely sure where the author was taking me, it was good to be on the ride. This is the perfect Autumn read, as much of the tone of the book echoed that season - there is death, but the hope of new life, and flash A Play for the End of the World is a beautiful, surprising novel filled with both harsh reality and unexpected moments of hope. As another reviewer noted, it shouldn’t work, but it does. I especially appreciated the writing - it sweeps you up into the story and even though I was never entirely sure where the author was taking me, it was good to be on the ride. This is the perfect Autumn read, as much of the tone of the book echoed that season - there is death, but the hope of new life, and flashes of bright, stunning color. A book to savor and enjoy. Thank you to NetGalley for providing a copy of this book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Bibi

    A slow start, this novel fluctuates between 1942 and the 1970s while tracing the path of the protagonist (Jaryk Smith) from Warsaw to New York to India and back to New York. The plot trundles along to reveal a love story between Jaryk grappling with a traumatized past and the independent, delightful Lucy Gardner who works at the employment office in NY helping her many clients with her encouragement and "move forward" attitude. When Jaryk is introduced to the reader, he is a grown man eking out a A slow start, this novel fluctuates between 1942 and the 1970s while tracing the path of the protagonist (Jaryk Smith) from Warsaw to New York to India and back to New York. The plot trundles along to reveal a love story between Jaryk grappling with a traumatized past and the independent, delightful Lucy Gardner who works at the employment office in NY helping her many clients with her encouragement and "move forward" attitude. When Jaryk is introduced to the reader, he is a grown man eking out a living in NY. He has a deep and abiding bond and friendship with Misha Waszynski, an older mentor and friend who was especially kind to him while they were both in an orphanage in Warsaw. This friendship solidifies over hardship, fear, hunger, and survival as Poland struggles with the tyranny of Nazi Germany. These two friends are miraculously spared while everyone else at the orphanage including the kind doctor and the compassionate matron, perished. Their perilous past is riddled with loss and guilt and sacrifice. Misha wants Jaryk to settle down and is hopeful and encouraging of his budding relationship with Lucy Gardner. Misha had earlier planned a trip to India to help direct a play, which he and his friend had participated in while at the ghetto/orphanage. The play, written by the talented Rabindranauth Tagore and when enacted in Warsaw, offered comfort to the Warsaw children who were unaware of plans made for them to be deported to Treblinka, a German extermination camp. The intention is for Jaryk to accompany Misha to help with this play project in India. Misha departs for India while Jaryk, flush in the bloom of first love with Lucy Gardner, stays behind as he courts Lucy. Unfortunately Misha passes away; Jaryk is thrust into immense grief and guilt. He rushes to India leaving a letter coldly penned for Lucy about his whereabouts. Lucy is struggling to understand the complex and murky personality of Jaryk who she is slowly discovering has a very sad and unfortunate past. Jaryk becomes enmeshed with a professor bent on making a political statement while Jaryk's sole purpose is to help the residents in the impoverished village find hope and some joy amidst a controversy over land ownership. Lucy discovers she is pregnant and decides to visit Jaryk in India to tell him the news in person. Jaryk makes a difficult choice to stay behind in India; he feels obliged to produce the play in memory of his friend. This choice leads to Lucy returning to NY where she contemplates a life of raising her child single-handedly. Lucy is a lovely character and so is her dad and her caring childhood neighbour, Timothy. Lucy seems a bit unhinged by Jaryk's behaviour but chooses to avoid any other relationship. At times, I feel like telling Lucy to move on and accept the friendship and support from Jonas, a co-worker and "a man of means and an open heart." The section of the novel with respect to Jaryk's experiences in India utilizes stereotypical facts. Eventually, Jaryk returns to NY, engages in some soul searching, and sets about to re-examine his future. Finally Lucy tells her dad about her pregnant situation and contemplates her own future. A moving love story and a plot loosely based on the real Janusz Korczak, a Polish writer, educator, and principal of an orphanage in Warsaw in 1942. It also showcases the value and role of art even in trying circumstances. Rounded up to 4 stars.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tommi Powell

    In 1942, a prominent Polish Jewish children’s author, Janusz Korczak or Pan Doktor, staged a performance of Rabindranath Tagore’s play The Post Office. The Indian play is about a very sick boy who will die. Korczak, consistently refusing sanctuary and insisting he stay with the nearly 200 orphans in his care, wanted to prepare the children (and himself) for what was likely to come. In August of that year, the entire orphanage, including Pan Doktor, was sent from the Ghetto to the Treblinka exter In 1942, a prominent Polish Jewish children’s author, Janusz Korczak or Pan Doktor, staged a performance of Rabindranath Tagore’s play The Post Office. The Indian play is about a very sick boy who will die. Korczak, consistently refusing sanctuary and insisting he stay with the nearly 200 orphans in his care, wanted to prepare the children (and himself) for what was likely to come. In August of that year, the entire orphanage, including Pan Doktor, was sent from the Ghetto to the Treblinka extermination camp. Pan Doktor, the children, and the nurses were all gassed – the children dressed in their finest to meet death. This story is true. Pan Doktor, the orphanage, the performance of the play… this is all true. Jai Chakrabarti imagines what would happen if two of these children survived in A Play for the End of the World (Alfred A. Knopf, 2021). A Play for the End of the World centers on Jaryk, a survivor from the Warsaw Ghetto, and Lucy, a free spirit from Mebane, North Carolina. (As a North Carolinian, I was a bit surprised and delighted to see Mebane show up as Lucy’s hometown.) The novel is a love story between Jaryk and Lucy, but it’s also a love story between Jaryk and his best friend, Misha. Misha is ten years older than Jaryk and had taken the young boy under his wing when Jaryk showed up at the orphanage. Like Jaryk, he escaped the fate of the other children. Both deal with their past and their survivor’s guilt in different ways. Misha is loud and open. Jaryk bottles the past deep inside, and the fractures seen in his relationship with Lucy are centered around the secrets and his guilt. A professor from India connects with Misha and invites him and Jaryk to stage the same play they’d both been a part of in Pan Doktor’s production. He wants them to direct the play in a rural Indian town, Gopalpur. There’s a lot of unrest in India, particularly in rural areas, and he wants to use the play as a political message. Jaryk doesn’t want to go, so Misha goes without him. While there, he dies. Jaryk flies to India to collect his friend’s ashes, and to finish what Misha had started. There, he finds himself on another political stage where normal people are driven to do bad things. Torn between his love for Lucy and the guilt that continues to consume him, he makes decisions that he will later regret. A Play for the End of the World is a solid debut with moments of genius. The correspondence between young Jaryk and Pan Doktor through a dream journal is heartbreaking. Lucy’s relationship with her father, which we don’t get too much of, had me rooting for her to leave New York for good. The unbreakable bond between Misha and Jaryk, forged as only tragedy can do, is the preferred “love story” of the novel. I did find some sections too rushed and incomplete – as if in the editing process, something important or introductory was removed and it not addressed elsewhere. Also, the editor screwed up the dates in the chapter headings; the scenes in India did not take place in 1942. All in all, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys historical fiction and appreciates the impact of the arts in political theater. Read this book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Marie

    “He knows the feeling of wanting to be something else and somewhere else.” Thank you @aaknopf for this gifted copy in exchange for an honest review! 📚💕 (publication date: September 7, 2021) A slow-paced, yet moving story about survival, the beauty of art & literature, and love. This story is a strong reminder of how plays, books, stories, and art can be an escape from the evil in the world. I typically enjoy fast-paced books, but this was the perfect change in pace. The writing was absolutely bea “He knows the feeling of wanting to be something else and somewhere else.” Thank you @aaknopf for this gifted copy in exchange for an honest review! 📚💕 (publication date: September 7, 2021) A slow-paced, yet moving story about survival, the beauty of art & literature, and love. This story is a strong reminder of how plays, books, stories, and art can be an escape from the evil in the world. I typically enjoy fast-paced books, but this was the perfect change in pace. The writing was absolutely beautiful; I wanted to savor every word. Chakrabarti writes seamlessly between different time periods, events, and characters’ perspectives. Although beautiful, the story is also intense and heart-wrenching. With all historical fiction, I learned a lot. This story introduced me to the political unrest in India during the 1970s and taught me more about the Warsaw Ghetto during World War II. I recommend checking this out when it is published in September! Synopsis: Jaryk Smith is living in New York City during the early 1970s. Jaryk survived the Warsaw Ghetto, one of the only two survivors from the orphanage where he grew up. The other survivor, Misha, has been a role model, support, and friend to Jaryk throughout his whole life, and especially in New York City. Jaryk has created a life for himself in New York City: he is the bookkeeper at a local synagogue and has fallen in love with Lucy Gardener. Jaryk is happily in love, but then he hears life-changing news about Misha: Misha mysteriously passed away while living in eastern India. Jaryk travels to the village in India to finish carrying out the plan Misha was a part of, putting on a play in protest against the government, the same play Jaryk put on as a child in protest of the Nazis. In carrying out this plan in honor of Misha, Jaryk is putting his life and his relationship with Lucy in danger…

  15. 5 out of 5

    Rachel

    3 1/2 Stars: 9-year-old Jaryk was one of Janusz Korczak's orphans who survived the Holocaust with the help of his friend and mentor Misha. The two emigrate to American together and Jaryk works as the secretary and caretaker of a small New York City synagogue. But in 1972 Misha, followed by Jaryk, ends up in India for a special 30th-anniversary production of "The Post Office," a play written by the Ben­gali play­wright and Nobel lau­re­ate Rabindranath Tagore, that both boys performed in the Wars 3 1/2 Stars: 9-year-old Jaryk was one of Janusz Korczak's orphans who survived the Holocaust with the help of his friend and mentor Misha. The two emigrate to American together and Jaryk works as the secretary and caretaker of a small New York City synagogue. But in 1972 Misha, followed by Jaryk, ends up in India for a special 30th-anniversary production of "The Post Office," a play written by the Ben­gali play­wright and Nobel lau­re­ate Rabindranath Tagore, that both boys performed in the Warsaw Ghetto. Chakrabarti's narrative weaves Jaryk survival story with his present-day life in New York, specifically focusing on his relationship with a young woman named Lucy. The connection between a Bengali play written in 1912, Janusz Korczak's Orphanage during WWII, and the Bengali refugee crisis and civil unrest in India in the 1970's was very interesting and certainly sets this novel apart from all the other Holocaust/WWII fiction crowding my bookshelves. However, some of the details just didn't ring true to me. For example, how likely is it that a small, aging, traditional synagogue would have a female cantor in 1972? The favorite foods that Jaryk and Misha describe from their childhoods didn't seem authentic to the Polish Jewish community. Was Jaryk a common Jewish name in Poland at the time? And, while Lucy notes the differences in their backgrounds (she grew up Christian in a small southern town), Jaryk never once struggles with, or questions, Lucy's non-Jewish background and the potential impact this might have on their future. There also seemed to be some small inconsistencies/errors in the plot. Regardless, both audiobook narrators were excellent and this was a very compelling and satisfying listen.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Brown Girl Bookshelf

    Enter into the world of Holocaust survivor Jaryk Smith and his lover, Lucy Gardner. Their budding New York City love story is interrupted when Jaryk receives word that his oldest friend has died mysteriously in a rural village in eastern India. Upon arriving in India, Jaryk is inundated with the local politics. Once again confronted by tyrannical leadership, Jaryk joins forces with the villagers to stage a play—the same play he performed as a child imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto. I was enthralle Enter into the world of Holocaust survivor Jaryk Smith and his lover, Lucy Gardner. Their budding New York City love story is interrupted when Jaryk receives word that his oldest friend has died mysteriously in a rural village in eastern India. Upon arriving in India, Jaryk is inundated with the local politics. Once again confronted by tyrannical leadership, Jaryk joins forces with the villagers to stage a play—the same play he performed as a child imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto. I was enthralled by the emotional intimacy debut author Jai Chakrabarti built through backstory. I felt as though only I had been given the key to a safe that stored a life’s worth of Jaryk’s deepest fears, pain, and secrets. That being said, Lucy, in my eyes, was the anchor of the story. Chakrabarti paints a beautiful image of what it means to love deeply and intimately. The relationship between Lucy and Jaryk was honest, turbulent at many times, and felt true. To love someone deeply is to be emotionally vulnerable, available, and intimate with the other, which Jaryk learned through Lucy. I found the lack of character development, or rather the late-bloomer-like development, of Jaryk to be a bit frustrating. I wanted to see this growth into emotional intimacy earlier on in the novel rather than in the last fourth. The power of “A Play for the End of the World” is in the ways Chakrabarti teaches us that art and love can be used as a tool to fuel the revolution, resistance, and reclamation of a person’s self in order to create change. Thank you to Aaknopf for our gifted copy.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    A Play and a Holocaust Survivor As a child in a Warsaw orphanage, Jarvyk Smith was involved in the production of a play that was a protest against the approaching Nazis. He and his friend Misha managed to escape the train taking them to the camps. Now Misha has perished in a remote village in India where he was involved in producing the same play. Although his life in New York is far from the horrors of WWII, Jarvyk can’t rise above his survivor’s guilt. Even his love affair with Lucy Gardener, a A Play and a Holocaust Survivor As a child in a Warsaw orphanage, Jarvyk Smith was involved in the production of a play that was a protest against the approaching Nazis. He and his friend Misha managed to escape the train taking them to the camps. Now Misha has perished in a remote village in India where he was involved in producing the same play. Although his life in New York is far from the horrors of WWII, Jarvyk can’t rise above his survivor’s guilt. Even his love affair with Lucy Gardener, a transplanted Southerner with whom he has started a romantic relationship, can’t keep him from going to India to recover Misha’s remains. However, once there he becomes enmeshed in taking Misha’s place in the play being produced in the troubled village. When it appears he is gone for a long time, Lucy follows him with the purpose of bringing him back. This is a lyrically written book with a difficult subject. Jarvyk is torn by guilt that he was one of the only ones who escaped the Nazis. This guilt keeps him from wholeheartedly embracing life even his love affair with Lucy. The book is an interesting exploration of the relationship between art, politics and community. It’s played out against Jarvek’s fears from the past and of moving on to the future. Although I found the ending somewhat equivocal, it’s a good look at the fallout for survivors of WWII. I received this book from Knopf for this review.

  18. 5 out of 5

    DearBookClub

    A Play For the End Of The World By Jai Chakrabarti Published September 7, 2021 304 pages The book is an interesting exploration of the relationship between art, family and history. Jaryk, an orphan, wants to be part of a family. In 4 days the German's will begin the deportation of Jewish Warsaw to the death camp of Treblinka. The 200 children in the orphanage will not be spaired. Treblinka was an extermination camp, built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II. It was in A Play For the End Of The World By Jai Chakrabarti Published September 7, 2021 304 pages The book is an interesting exploration of the relationship between art, family and history. Jaryk, an orphan, wants to be part of a family. In 4 days the German's will begin the deportation of Jewish Warsaw to the death camp of Treblinka. The 200 children in the orphanage will not be spaired. Treblinka was an extermination camp, built and operated by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland during World War II. It was in a forest north-east of Warsaw. A lot of the story takes place in Calcutta during 1972. Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) is the capital of India's West Bengal state. Jaryk was amongst a smell of rot and bamboo when he entered Calcutta. It was a zig-zag of mud huts and people who looked hungry. He takes with him one suitcase, that was once Misha's. Jaryk left Lucy Gardener, his girlfriend, behind in Brooklyn. In 1971, Bangladesh found nationhood. People fled into and out of the country. People murdered and celebrated in the streets. Jaryk Smith, originally from Warsaw, Poland, arrived in the United States in 1946. He made up a new last name upon entering the country. Jaryk and his friend Misha lived in Poland and Brooklyn together before Misha returned to India for a play and died of a massive heart attack. Misha outlived a war only to die in a foreign land.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Maddie | bookish.pgh

    Thank you to Knopf for the opportunity to read and review an advanced readers copy of this book. This is no way affects my review, all opinions are my own. A dazzling debut 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 the Second World War, and a searing examination of one man's search for forgiveness and acceptance. My Thoughts: 🎭 This was an absolutely beautiful novel. Chakrabarti’s writing is poetic Thank you to Knopf for the opportunity to read and review an advanced readers copy of this book. This is no way affects my review, all opinions are my own. A dazzling debut 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 the Second World War, and a searing examination of one man's search for forgiveness and acceptance. My Thoughts: 🎭 This was an absolutely beautiful novel. Chakrabarti’s writing is poetic and captivating, and it completely drew me in to Jaryk and Lucy’s relationship. 🎭 I loved how we got to see both Jaryk and Lucy’s points of view and even the sneak peeks of Jaryk’s experiences as a child in an orphanage in Warsaw. I really felt connected to both characters, flaws and all, and appreciated the raw emotion of their difficult experiences. 🎭 This was a heavy, slow-burn novel and I really enjoyed it from beginning to end. It was very different from the books I’ve been reading recently and I loved this change of pace. I highly recommend this one, and am looking forward to picking up more books from this author!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bookoholiccafe

    A Play for the End of the World by Jai Chakrabarti will stay with me for so long. Set in rural India and New York in the early 1970s, Lucy who is a Gardner, and Jaryk a Warsaw, Ghetto survivor, has recently moved to New York. They still haven’t settled in the city when Jaryk finds out that his best friend, Misha has died in a rural village in India, and he needs to travel there to collect his ashes. Soon he finds out that Misha was staging a political play in India before he died and now Jaryk ha A Play for the End of the World by Jai Chakrabarti will stay with me for so long. Set in rural India and New York in the early 1970s, Lucy who is a Gardner, and Jaryk a Warsaw, Ghetto survivor, has recently moved to New York. They still haven’t settled in the city when Jaryk finds out that his best friend, Misha has died in a rural village in India, and he needs to travel there to collect his ashes. Soon he finds out that Misha was staging a political play in India before he died and now Jaryk has to take his place. It is the same play they staged when they were both at the orphanage in Warsaw thirty years ago. Torn in the middle of helping the community and his love for lucy, he is bewildered and finds it difficult to make his decision. We get to feel how deep Lucy and Jaryk love runs and see their points of view. The author did a great job describing the mental battle Jaryk was going through, how conflicted he was, and Lucy’s frustration made me feel their pain. At some point, the story slowed down when Jayrik was confused and stuck between his past and future. At the same time, it was an intense and heartbreaking story with descriptive and powerful writing.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laura Shaine

    Riveting historical fiction inspired by an actual event- the deportation and deaths of a group of orphans in Poland, during the holocaust. The central character, Jaryk, is one of only two orphans to survive and he revisits his past 30 years later when he travels to India. As a child, he had performed in a play written by an Indian-- a play chosen by the compassionate director of the orphanage, to help prepare the orphans for their terrible fate. It is this play that the adult Jaryk must direct, Riveting historical fiction inspired by an actual event- the deportation and deaths of a group of orphans in Poland, during the holocaust. The central character, Jaryk, is one of only two orphans to survive and he revisits his past 30 years later when he travels to India. As a child, he had performed in a play written by an Indian-- a play chosen by the compassionate director of the orphanage, to help prepare the orphans for their terrible fate. It is this play that the adult Jaryk must direct, this time with a cast of imperiled Indian children. Jai Chakrabarti reminded me of some great Eastern European writers, Bruno Schulz, Milan Kundera and Isaac B. Singer but he is a true original and handles his intricate plot with grace. I found myself unable to put down the book, and hoping for Jaryk to find peace and accept love and survive - again.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Anjali

    This is a quiet novel with a slow start, but it grew on me as I settled into it. The bulk of the story takes place in 1972 in New York and in a small Indian village, with flashbacks to 1942 Warsaw. As a child, Jaryk narrowly escaped death in the Warsaw ghetto when his entire orphanage was deported to Treblinka. When his oldest friend dies under mysterious circumstances in rural India, Jaryk leaves the woman he loves to collect his friend's ashes and ends up involved in the village's desperate po This is a quiet novel with a slow start, but it grew on me as I settled into it. The bulk of the story takes place in 1972 in New York and in a small Indian village, with flashbacks to 1942 Warsaw. As a child, Jaryk narrowly escaped death in the Warsaw ghetto when his entire orphanage was deported to Treblinka. When his oldest friend dies under mysterious circumstances in rural India, Jaryk leaves the woman he loves to collect his friend's ashes and ends up involved in the village's desperate political struggles. I really enjoyed this book, but I also felt distanced from the characters and story, as if reading through a veil. That may have been a deliberate technique, but it meant I wasn't as emotionally connected as the events should have led me to be. 3.5 stars, rounded up.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    The reverberations from traumatic moments can echo through lives even decades after the events took place. Those feelings may remain dormant until something triggers their release and the reactions may surprise everyone. Two recent novels – “A Play for the End for the World” by Jai Chakrabarti (Alfred A. Knopf) and “Defending Britta Stein” by Ronald H. Balson (St. Martin’s Press) – look at what occurs when those emotions are released. Although the works take place in two different time periods, The reverberations from traumatic moments can echo through lives even decades after the events took place. Those feelings may remain dormant until something triggers their release and the reactions may surprise everyone. Two recent novels – “A Play for the End for the World” by Jai Chakrabarti (Alfred A. Knopf) and “Defending Britta Stein” by Ronald H. Balson (St. Martin’s Press) – look at what occurs when those emotions are released. Although the works take place in two different time periods, they show how trauma may never be completely erased. See the rest of my review at https://www.thereportergroup.org/past....

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Vitone

    There were so many things to love about this book! The author creatively tied together a play performed in a Polish orphanage during WW II to the political atmosphere in 1970’s India where the play was being staged again. The doctor who ran the orphanage was truly the hero …..so inspirational!! The author also sensitively deals with survivor guilt/shame and a complicated love story. This was a unique story that was so unexpected….loved it!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    I read this in a few sittings. As others have written, the start is a bit disjointed and slow but I soon got into the story. It's a beautiful romance between a man damaged by his rough childhood during World War I Poland and an American woman from the South who doesn't understand. They meet in, where else, New York. High marks for originality and writing. I liked the way the author changed points of view and time eras. It flowed seamlessly. I read this in a few sittings. As others have written, the start is a bit disjointed and slow but I soon got into the story. It's a beautiful romance between a man damaged by his rough childhood during World War I Poland and an American woman from the South who doesn't understand. They meet in, where else, New York. High marks for originality and writing. I liked the way the author changed points of view and time eras. It flowed seamlessly.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    This is written very beautifully, and I would recommend it to many people- especially those who read mostly for just the artistry in writing. It's too slow-paced and slice of life, and sort of like a book version of the song Brick by Ben Folds Five for my taste. But no inherent flaw with the book, just not my cup of tea. This is written very beautifully, and I would recommend it to many people- especially those who read mostly for just the artistry in writing. It's too slow-paced and slice of life, and sort of like a book version of the song Brick by Ben Folds Five for my taste. But no inherent flaw with the book, just not my cup of tea.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Leslie Zemeckis

    A play performed by children in the Warsaw Ghetto to prepare them for inevitable death - the escape of two of those children and years later their adventure in India again to perform the play in a village that is in danger - great sad profound book

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sylvia

    A brilliant book. Writing that flows, characters that are unique and alive and a wonderful story that manages to cover the Warsaw ghetto, the power of art, the meaning of love and so much more. Loved it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bea

    I thought this was a little disjointed in the beginning and I had a hard time following the story, whether it was in past or present, etc., but it picked up and was really engrossing. It is not so much about the holocaust but a survivor's life after. The characters are all wonderful. I thought this was a little disjointed in the beginning and I had a hard time following the story, whether it was in past or present, etc., but it picked up and was really engrossing. It is not so much about the holocaust but a survivor's life after. The characters are all wonderful.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Hernandez

    "To live with any sense of fullness you must be willing to bewilder yourself, embrace the confusion of a world that is always falling away from you, a little at a time. That, finally, is his contribution to the secret university: a little bewilderment can go a long way." "To live with any sense of fullness you must be willing to bewilder yourself, embrace the confusion of a world that is always falling away from you, a little at a time. That, finally, is his contribution to the secret university: a little bewilderment can go a long way."

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