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In 1989, the summer before the Berlin Wall collapsed, a pregnant, young American art historian, is drawn back to Berlin, seeking the truth about the disappearance of her husband. There, she meets an exiled East German artist whose tormented life and stories of the Greek mystics make him both forbidding and irresistible. In this novel of conflicting allegiances played out between Cold War Berlin and the stark beauty of the Cycladic islands, tourists, natives, and refugees circle one another warily, their fates hanging on the question of which trusts if any, will remain inviolate.

About the Author

Paula Closson Buck is the author of two books of poems from LSU Press. Her stories have appeared in Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, and Southern Review. A former editor of West Branch, she directs the creative writing program at Bucknell University and has lived briefly in both Berlin and the Greek islands. 


“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.” 

Kirkus Reviews

“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