The Sun and Other Stars: A Novel

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Brigid Pasulka?s PEN/Hemingway award-winning debut novel was compared to the works of Jonathan Safran Foer by the New York Times and hailed by Elle as ?storytelling that gets under your skin and forces you to press copies into your best friends? hands.? Now The Sun and Other Stars, Pasulka?s extraordinary second novel, is all that and more: a profound, compelling, and big-hearted masterpiece that showcases an exquisite writer at the joyful height of her talents.

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The Sun and Other Stars: A Novel

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Brigid Pasulka’s PEN/Hemingway award-winning debut novel was compared to the works of Jonathan Safran Foer by the New York Times and hailed by Elle as “storytelling that gets under your skin and forces you to press copies into your best friends’ hands.” Now The Sun and Other Stars, Pasulka’s extraordinary second novel, is all that and more: a profound, compelling, and big-hearted masterpiece that showcases an exquisite writer at the joyful height of her talents.

In the seaside village of San Benedetto, a resort town on the Italian Riviera, twenty-twoyear- old Etto finds himself adrift. Within the past year, Etto has not only lost both his twin brother and his mother, but in his grief has become estranged from his father, the local butcher. While his father passes the time with the men of the town in the fine tradition of Italian men everywhere—a reverential obsession with soccer—Etto retreats ever further from his day-to-day life, seeking solace in the hills above the town.

But then a Ukrainian soccer star, the great Yuri Fil, sweeps into San Benedetto, taking refuge himself from an international scandal. Soon Yuri and his captivating tomboy sister Zhuki invite Etto into their world of sport, celebrity, loyalty, and humor. Under their influence, Etto begins to reconstruct his relationship with his father and, slowly, open himself back up to the world. Who knows: perhaps the game of soccer isn’t just a waste of time, and perhaps San Benedetto, his father, love, and life itself might have more to offer him than he ever believed possible.

The Sun and Other Stars is a gorgeous, celebratory tale about families, compromise, and community, and about how losses can be transformed into hope. Irresistible and unforgettable, it is a shimmering miracle of a book.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Mike Peed
If the narrative of The Sun and Other Stars traces an old path—the redemptive power of sport—there is something deeply charming, almost refreshing, about its unabashed conventionality. Pasulka doesn't go in for literary tricks. No blending of genres, ambiguous narrators or chapters as Excel spreadsheets. She can occasionally seem too smitten with her own wit…but more often she delivers shrewd observations about the imprisonment of small-town life and the liberation of young love…the sincerity of this tale of psychological recovery gratifies.
Publishers Weekly
What do you do if everyone in your little town is obsessed with soccer, and you couldn’t care less? If all the guys your age are out chasing girls, and you’re hopelessly socially awkward? And if those are just the irritations atop the real injuries—your soccer-star twin brother died in a car crash, your mother killed herself afterward, and you and your father work together in the family butcher shop but never talk? The torments to which Pasulka subjects Etto, the 22-year-old protagonist of her second novel (after A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True), occur in San Benedetto, a beautiful tourist town on the Italian Riviera; it’s close-knit but suffocating, and Etto wants to leave, but is afraid to. And then a stranger comes to town, his father’s favorite soccer player, scandal-clouded Ukrainian Yuri Fil, whose entourage includes his equally soccer-mad and -skilled sister, Zhuki. The resulting complications could easily have been cloyingly “heartwarming,” but Pasulka avoids cliché with some lovely writing (Etto, falling for Zhuki, decides her name sounds like “the waves foaming up on the beach in the winter”), well-placed low humor, and specificity of place. Readers will be crossing their fingers for Etto to find some well-deserved happiness. Agent: Wendy Sherman, Wendy Sherman Associates. (Feb.)
"[A] celebration of young love, sunshine and la dolce vita..."
"Poetic... A beautiful story rich in detail and authenticity."
New York Times Book Review
Praise for A Long Long Time Ago and Essentially True

"Resonant moments. . .appealing characters and keen observations."

The Chicago Tribune
“Her sweet, generous novel offers hope that her appealing heroine and a nation to often brutalized frequently by the forces of history will both have better tomorrows.”
Philadelphia City Paper
Pasulka shows the way that history's disappointments provide the strength for new growth.
author of The Samurai's Garden - Gail Tsukiyama
"With a magician's sleight of hand, Brigid Pasulka once again conjures up a stunning chorus of characters. . .The Sun and Other Stars is storytelling at its best, and Pasulka has made magic with this wise, poignant tale of love, community, and the sport that brings them all together!"
author of The Widower's Tale and Three Junes - Julia Glass
“How in the world did I just lose my heart to the entire village of San Benedetto, to its butchers and playboys and slackers and, most of all, its large population of swaggering elderly (mea culpa) soccer fans? Or maybe the question is this: How can a story about unbearable grief be so funny, so bawdy, so vibrant with the earthy joys of ordinary life? To that one, I know the answer: when it is told by someone with the uncommon wit of the fearless, tender, wise Brigid Pasulka. The Sun and Other Stars is, as its title promises, a wondrous and radiant novel.”
author of Going to the Sun and Positively 5th Street - James McManus
“What a smashing novel. Even more intricately braided and moving than her excellent first one. Fans of both Dante and the Azzuri will find plenty to relish and celebrate.”
author of The Last Chinese Chef and Lost in Translation - Nicholas Mones
“In this life-affirming novel of past and present, Brigid Pasulka twines the bright colors of fable with the subtler tones of disillusionment, survival, and rebirth. . . .Rarely does a novel succeed so well in evoking place and history, especially with a story as winning as this one. A marvelous debut.”
author of Gorgeous Lies - Martha McPhee
“At once haunting and exquisitely vibrant, Pasulka's original tale is a treasure, transcending history, time, and place.”
author of Crossing California and The Thieves of Manhattan - Adam Langer
“Grand in scope, yet meticulous in detail, Brigid Pasulka's generous and affectionate novel finds universal truths in both its most-dramatic moments and its most-intimate observations. A compassionate, elegant, and moving debut.”
"The Sun and Other Stars bursts with a Mediterranean ease and exuberance... energetic and carefree, reminiscent perhaps of Dave Eggers or Salman Rushdie."
National Geographic Traveler
“One of the many gifts of Brigid Pasulka's debut novel, is that it transports us through the outer layers straight into the heart of Poland, brilliantly evoking the country's emotional landscape. . . .A Long Long Time Ago & Essentially True rings hauntingly, echoingly real.”
The New York Times Book Review
“Charming…refreshing…This tale of psychological recovery gratifies.”
The Boston Globe
"Read and savored slowly, it is akin to those long, hot summer days Pasulka so vividly captures. Full of light and surprising grace, it is both a poetic coming-of-age story and a poignant examination of the nature of family and belonging."
Men's Journal
"What The Art of Fielding did for college baseball, The Sun and Other Stars succeeds in doing for pickup soccer."
"[A] celebration of young love, sunshine and la dolce vita..."
Kirkus Reviews
On the Italian Riviera, a wounded young man rediscovers his appetite for life through the intervention of a fugitive soccer celebrity, in the heartwarming second novel from award-winning writer Pasulka. Unusually, Pasulka (A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True, 2009) not only introduces a lot of soccer into her love story, but also narrates it from a male perspective, that of 22-year-old Etto, son of the village butcher in San Benedetto, a seaside tourist resort in Liguria. Still mourning the loss of his brother, Luca, and his heartbroken mother's subsequent suicide, Etto (who often swears, usually in Italian) is a walking storm of unresolved emotions: loss, anger, guilt, restlessness and uncertainty. But a catalyst for change appears--Yuri Fil, a Ukrainian soccer celebrity, in hiding after a match-fixing scandal. Etto cares little for soccer but does find himself attracted to Yuri's tough sister, Zhuki, and becomes a secret nighttime pupil of Yuri's. When the celebrity's presence eventually becomes known, the whole community is swept up in the excitement and organizes a soccer tournament. Events reach a head at the Ferragosto Festival, and although, by now, Pasulka has lost some of her plot's sure-footedness, she does succeed in bringing all her players safely home. Pasulka scores a refreshing success with her affectionate portrait of a small-town community and her fresh angle on an aching heart.
From the Publisher

"[A] celebration of young love, sunshine and la dolce vita..." (O, The Oprah Magazine -- Editor's Pick, "3 Books for Wintry Weekends")

Poetic... A beautiful story rich in detail and authenticity. (Booklist)

[A] heartwarming second novel from award-winning writer Pasulka. . . [She] scores a refreshing success with her affectionate portrait of a small-town community and her fresh angle on an aching heart. (Kirkus Reviews)

Library Journal
At last, a winsome literary treat for today's soccer moms. What better way to pass the time between car pools than reading about a small town on the Italian Riviera, where Italian soccer, known as calcio, is a way of life? Everyone in San Benedetto is obsessed, except 22-year-old Etto, who's still grieving the loss of both his mother and his brother, who had been an up-and-coming calcio star. Slogging day by day in his father's butcher shop, occasionally venturing out to nightclubs with his moronic friends ("deficiente"), Etto is bitter, grouchy, and full of despair. Then one day Ukrainian soccer phenom Yuri Fil arrives in San Benedetto with his entourage, fleeing the paparazzi and a scandal. Yuri and his deeply protective sister Zhuki draw Etto into a pickup game of calcio that morphs into something much more—a chance at love and hope for the future. VERDICT This simple love story by the Pen/Hemingway Award-winning author of A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True is heavy on soccer—and Italian profanity, which, since it's in Italian, seems cute and not offensive. This charming story will appeal to fans of Jess Walter's Beautiful Ruins. [See Prepub Alert, 8/12/13.]—Christine Perkins, Whatcom County Lib. Syst., Bellingham, WA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451667110
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 2/4/2014
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 224,881
  • Product dimensions: 6.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Brigid Pasulka’s debut novel, A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True, won the 2010 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Pasulka currently lives in Chicago with her husband and son and runs the writing center at a public high school. Visit her website at

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 13, 2014

    Loved this book about futbol and Italy and a little village of r

    Loved this book about futbol and Italy and a little village of real people. The passion for the sport in every day people fills lives that have been afflicted by loss, love and the parameters of a small village they can't or won't leave. The characters are fully explored, especially the main character, and I cared about them and their stories. This book is very well written and the story is meaningful and moving. It ended a bit abruptly, but in the  way it should. A wonderful read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2014

    Hawkstar's updated bio

    Hawkstar is a muscular brown tom with lightning blue eyes. He is DestinyClan's leader, and his mate is Snowstar. Currently they have no kits. Hawkstar is friendly and loving, but prefers to fight instead of making truces sometimes.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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