The Stars Can Wait: A Novel

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9780805068870: The Stars Can Wait: A Novel

In this powerful debut set in 1940s German-occupied Poland, a young Catholic boy unearths the secrets of his brother's mysterious life.

Fifteen-year-old Gracian Sofka is a stargazer. Every night for the past year he has broken curfew to view the constellations from a clearing in the forest-that is, until his older brother, Pawel, discovers his secret pastime. And now that the German troops have stepped up patrols of the area, the gruff, mysterious Pawel forbids his brother to continue his risky activity.

Life in the previously quiet village of Malenkowice grows increasingly precarious. Men are accosted on the street by German soldiers, Gracian's widowed mother risks imprisonment to smuggle food, and Gracian's co-workers at the coal mines grow restless. As tension builds in the town, it also grows within Gracian's own household. After a run-in with his sister's husband, Pawel is forced to leave the house, becoming even more distant and elusive in Gracian's eyes.

Then one day Pawel presents Gracian with a telescope, allowing the boy to slowly discover the truth about his brother's shadowy past. But while he succeeds in unlocking Pawel's secrets, Gracian is blind to the inevitable tragedy hurtling toward them all-and to his unwitting role as its catalyst.

Haunting and lyrical, The Stars Can Wait possesses the intense, concentrated power of a fable and introduces a stunning new voice to American readers.

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About the Author:

Jay Basu was born to an Indian father and a half-Polish, half-Russian mother. He graduated from Cambridge University in 1999. The Stars Can Wait is his first novel. He lives in London.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

His mother would be frozen then, her face red and her wooden cooking spoon drawn up into the air between them. She would not let them talk of the Germans. She was as afraid as the rest of the village.

"Don't start, Pawel," she would say in an urgent voice, her eyes wide and alarmed. "Your talk could kill us all."

He would leave. And then the silence of the house and of his mother would silt down upon Gracian, weighting his shoulders. Later, Pawel would return and apologize and embrace his mother and promise to visit the mines tomorrow, but no one believed he would.

Such was the way of Pawel Sofka. Always leaving. Never staying. There were times when Gracian was so tired from work that he would sit with his brother unspeaking, feeling a great swell of desire to question him about the way in which he led his life; but something about his brother's quiet face made the words falter and drown before they left his mouth and he would be unable to say
a word and then it was too late and Pawel was up and dusting his trouser fronts with his palms and vanishing once again outside-back out into the close-guarded mystery of himself.

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