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A Play for the End of the World

A novel by

“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

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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 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.

Genre: Literary Fiction

Praise for this book

"In this beautiful, deeply imagined first novel Jai Chakrabarti combines widely disparate moments of the twentieth century: 1970s New York, the Warsaw Ghetto, a pilgrimage to India. In the heat of his art these very different elements are melted down and forged into something suspiciously like hope." - John Benditt

"Dazzling in its scope, uplifting in its vision, heart-wrenching in its intertwined narratives of trauma and survival, Jai Chakrabarti’s A Play for the End of the World spans three continents and three decades in the life of Jaryk Smith, a Holocaust survivor whose journey is a testament to human resilience and an affirmation of the idea that art can save lives." - Elizabeth Gaffney

"Elegantly constructed and deeply moving, this stunning debut novel is a meditation on the emotional costs of survival, the role of art in desperate circumstances, and the redemptive possibilities of love. Jai Chakrabarti writes with poetic precision, psychological acuity, and great compassion." - Amy Gottlieb

"Spanning continents and generations, Jai Chakrabarti’s A Play for the End of the World is about love, art, performance, and the enduring weight of history. It’s a beautiful, engrossing novel." - Joshua Henkin

"An exceptional work of fiction. Expertly plotted and masterfully crafted, A Play for the End of the World is an unforgettable song that honors millions of lives lost due to genocide and political oppression. Already an award-winning short story writer, Jai Chakrabarti pens with the economic intensity and the power of observation that resurrects the past and shines the light of understanding onto the present and future. I could not put this book down!" - Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai

"A Play for the End of the World looks deeply at the echoes and overlaps among art, resistance,love, and history. Jai Chakrabarti is a lyrical writer, and this is an impressive debut." - Meg Wolitzer

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