“Each story shed about as much light as a match and made all the dark around it worth wanting to know…”
In the late spring of 1989, Lyddie, a young American art historian, finds herself alone and pregnant when her husband, Phelps, disappears in Kurdish Iraq. Set adrift from the security of their marriage, she returns to the divided city of Berlin where they met four years before, looking for information about his past.
Now the ferment at Germany’s borders is spilling into the private lives of their old group of bohemian friends—particularly that of exiled East German painter Axel Herzog. Lyddie has always felt the pull of Axel’s art and stories of his boyhood in Greece. Though her missing husband once warned her away from Axel, the attraction grows stronger as she uncovers a vulnerability beneath the scorn he learned on the other side of the Wall. When revelations about Axel’s past send her looking for an escape from him, Lyddie finds herself running headlong into everything she has tried to avoid.
In this novel of conflicting allegiances played out between a richly realized late Cold War Berlin and the stark beauty of the Cycladic islands, travelers, natives, and refugees circle one another warily, their fates hanging on the question of which trusts if any, will remain unviolated.
Absorbing and thought provoking, Summer on the Cold War Planet is a serious portrait of a woman who must navigate a labyrinth of secrets, even within her divided heart.
An international romantic tragedy glowing with polished prose and poetic highlights.
History snares these characters, whether the author is tracing the plight of Kurdish refugees in Greece or the chaos before the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Like the underwater paintings created by the stoic grandfather Dimitri who discovers his art by accident, this ambitious novel offers us scenes of suddenly luminous beauty, transforming the residue of the wounded characters’ mistakes into possibilities for newly enhanced life.
-Lee Upton, author of The Tao of Humiliation
Paula Closson Buck animates a fascinating set of characters whose lives both represent and resist the larger sociopolitical and generational sweeps they are carried by. The result is a rich and provocative exploration of freedom, allegiance, and betrayal–and the sense that history matters but so, too, do our individual stories.
–Elise Blackwell, author of Hunger and The Lower Quarter