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The Sun and Other Stars: A Novel Hardcover – February 4, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Twenty-two-year-old Etto is drowning in grief. His twin brother, Luca, died in an accident, and within the year, his mother committed suicide. He has no real relationship with his father, and in his small town of San Benedetto, Italy, he has no prospects other than following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a butcher. Etto has no hope until disgraced Yuri Fil, a famous Ukrainian soccer player accused of fixing a game, comes to San Benedetto with his sister, Zhuki, and the rest of his entourage. Yuri shows Etto that everything can be made better with soccer. Pasulka’s poetic language captures the wild fanaticism of European soccer fans, the slow pace and intimacy of small-town life in Italy, and the heartbreak of losing loved ones while struggling to maintain relationships that are seemingly beyond repair. Even if you aren’t a fan of the game, this is so much more than a soccer novel; it is a beautiful story rich in detail and authenticity. --Carolyn Kubisz


“Charming…refreshing…This tale of psychological recovery gratifies.” (The New York Times Book Review)

"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." (The Boston Globe)

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

“Magical. . .Pasulka’s delightful debut braids together two tales of old and new Poland.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

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

"What The Art of Fielding did for college baseball, The Sun and Other Stars succeeds in doing for pickup soccer." (Men's Journal)

"[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)

"The Sun and Other Stars bursts with a Mediterranean ease and exuberance... energetic and carefree, reminiscent perhaps of Dave Eggers or Salman Rushdie." (Bookpage)

"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!" (Gail Tsukiyama author of The Samurai's Garden)

“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.” (James McManus author of Going to the Sun and Positively 5th Street)

Praise for A Long Long Time Ago and Essentially True

"Resonant moments. . .appealing characters and keen observations." (New York Times Book Review)

“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.” (The Chicago Tribune)

“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.” (National Geographic Traveler)

“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.” (Nicholas Mones author of The Last Chinese Chef and Lost in Translation)

“At once haunting and exquisitely vibrant, Pasulka's original tale is a treasure, transcending history, time, and place.” (Martha McPhee author of Gorgeous Lies)

“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.” (Adam Langer author of Crossing California and The Thieves of Manhattan)

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; First Edition edition (February 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451667116
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451667110
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,149,578 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About 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 BrigidPasulka.com.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition
I'm a sucker for books that make me laugh out loud and then leave me sighing with appreciation for their subtle and touching moments. I am definitely not a sucker for love stories, but every now and then I'm totally entranced by one that is honest and original. I'm also a sucker for books that make me feel something I don't ordinarily feel. This one made me feel the joy of calcio (the Italian name for soccer), at least as it is played by aging but passionate fans who have a few weeks of glory kicking a ball around with a couple of authentic stars. But calcio is merely a backdrop to an engaging novel that is both a coming-of-age story and a father-son family drama, with a couple of love stories thrown in to sweeten the plot.

The less favored of two sons but the only one still living, Etto works in the family butcher shop, where he believes he is treated more as a slave than a son (the difference, if the is one, between slavery and family is one of the novel's themes). Etto's brother Luca is buried in an empty school's untended calcio field where Etto's father insisted he be interred. Etto's American mother died under circumstances that continue to anger him. Feeling alone in the world at twenty-two, confiding his thoughts only to his brother's headstone, Etto is stuck in San Benedetto, waiting for his life to "keep piling up" until he is "an old, bitter man." His life in the butcher shop has been planned out for him by his father and grandfather, and while others tell him he should be comforted by a life that is unburdened by hard decisions, Etto isn't so sure. He feels he is living with his face pressed to the glass, watching other people live real lives.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Life in an Italian village like San Benedetto has inoculated Etto against joining the chatter about leaving, against being a 'big talker in a long line.' It seems that those who do talk the talk or walk the talk either never leave or can't help but eventually return. Hence Etto's reluctance to contemplate sketching big dreams. This is one of the truths that this 22 year old contemplates. There are as we discover other reasons.
Revolving around soccer or calcio as it known in Italy, 'The Sun and Other Stars' is a tale of the experience of being lost, of disassociation after loss. And of finding yourself, of returning to life, of letting the small things and larger things of life, of rediscovered and new loves, warm you and restore you as surely as the sun does bringing warmth into your very bones. A story of hope, beautifully crafted by Pasulka.
How Etto, and subsequently his papa find life again after tragedy and loss (the death of his brother and later his mother), how this has scarred him, his papa, and their relationship, is intensely presented. Etto's story is told through a patina of displacement as through a glass darkly. We hover with him on the edge of his feelings. We soar with him as he sketches his loss and rage on the vaulted ceiling of the closed school. It's only as Etto becomes part of the visiting Ukranians that he starts to live again. Yuri Fil, a Ukrainian player is awaiting charges for match fixing. He has chosen San Benedetto to lie low in, away from the paparazzi. Yuri plays with the Genoan soccer team and is Etto's papa's hero. Etto meets him by way of Yuri's sister up on the playing field above the village where his brother Luca is buried. Etto is enamoured with Zhuki. These people, these strangers, pull him into their lives.
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Format: Hardcover
I've been stewing on this review for quite some time now. You see, I read The Sun and Other Stars by Brigid Pasulka in early December. I couldn't wait, because it was in my hands, I loved her previous (and debut) novel, A Long, Long Time Ago & Essentially True, and the cover..it just taunted me every time I opened my e-reader. So I read it. And it was completely unlike anything I expected. You see, I went into The Sun and Other Stars thinking it would be similar to Pasulka's previous novel, but it was so very different - or so I thought.

But now, as I sit here months later, thinking back on the story, on the parts that really stuck with me, I realize that in spite of having a completely different setting, the magic was still there for me. I know absolutely nothing about football (or, as we call it here, soccer), yet I was completely sucked in by the story that Pasulka told in this book. The reason that the story has stuck with me for so long in such an intense way is because, in spite of the sport involved and all of the jargon that's part of writing and reading about that sport, and in spite of my lack of interest in it at all, I still absolutely loved every element of The Sun and Other Stars.
What Pasulka does best is write romantic love stories. I'm not talking sparks flying, instant love between two gorgeous people who have no flaws, love stories. I'm not talking Twilight creepy stories or love stories that seem as if they are teetering on a very high cliff, ready to fall off and into pieces at the merest breath of a wind. I'm talking a love story that grows from the roots up - that takes two seemingly ordinary people and makes them extraordinary, simply because of the love they share for the other person. That's what The Sun and Other Stars is about, at its core.
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