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A Play for the End of the World: A novel
by Jai Chakrabarti

Published: 2021-09-07T00:0
Hardcover : 304 pages
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“Looks deeply at the echoes and overlaps among art, resistance, love, and history ... an impressive debut.” —Meg Wolitzer, best-selling author of The Female Persuasion

Oprah Daily’s “30 of the Best Fall Books of 2021 to Cuddle Up With”
Vol. 1 Brooklyn’s “Books of the ...

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Introduction

“Looks deeply at the echoes and overlaps among art, resistance, love, and history ... an impressive debut.” —Meg Wolitzer, best-selling author of The Female Persuasion

Oprah Daily’s “30 of the Best Fall Books of 2021 to Cuddle Up With”
Vol. 1 Brooklyn’s “Books of the Month"
Alma’s “Favorite Books for Fall 2021”
Paperback Paris’s “Debut Books We’re Excited To Read”
Jewish Insider’s “10 new books to read in September”
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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Excerpt

Author’s Note
On July 18, 1942, weeks before the deportations to Treblinka, the Polish-Jewish educator, medical doctor, and author Janusz Korczak staged a play at his orphanage in the Warsaw Ghetto. The performance was an adaptation of a Bengali play, Dak Ghar, by Rabindranath Tagore. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

A Play for the End of the World spans across America, Poland, India. What places in the book would you like to visit?

The power of art to change our lives is a recurring theme in this novel. How has art affected you in moments of turmoil?

Why does Janusz Korczak, “Pan Doktor,” stage the play “The Post Office” with his orphans? What is he hoping for in the process?

In a conversation with Igor Newerly, Pan Doktor refers to the play as “a play for the end of the world.” What does he mean by that?

“It transcends the test–being a mirror of the self. It transcends emotion–being experience. It transcends acting–being the work of children,” wrote poet Wladyslw Szlengel when referring to the performance of “The Post Office” in Janusz Korczak’s orphanage. What was he hoping to convey with those lines?

Misha has lived most of his life in New York and hasn’t traveled much. Why then does Misha accept Professor Bose’s invitation to come to India?

Lucy’s love for Jaryk is a grounding force in the novel. Why do you think she falls in love with Jaryk? How do you feel about her decision to visit him in India?

The following lines from Rabindranath Tagore are quoted in the book, “Trust love even if it brings sorrow. Do not close up your heart… The heart is only for giving away.” What do those lines mean to you, and how do you think Lucy and Jaryk interpreted them?

What did you think of Jaryk’s decision to remain in India despite Lucy’s protests?

What do you think will happen to Gopalpur after Jaryk returns to New York? What impact do you think he had on the villagers and their situation?

After the book’s end, where do you think the different characters will be in ten years?

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