Some writers are good at drawing a literary curtain over reality, and then there are writers who raise the veil and lead us to see for the first time. Krivák belongs to the latter. The Sojourn, about a war and a family and coming-of-age, does not present a single false moment of sentimental creation. Rather, it looks deeply into its characters’ lives with wisdom and humanity, and, in doing so, helps us experience a distant past that feels as if it could be our own.
Publication Date: 2017-01-24
In their small town in northeastern Pennsylvania, Hannah and her son Bo mourn the loss of the family patriarch, Jozef Vinich. They were three generations under one roof, a war-haunted family in a war-torn century, but only one branch of a scraggy tree.
Having survived the trenches of World War I as an Austro-Hungarian conscript, Jozef journeyed to America and built a life for his children. His daughter Hannah married the European-born Bexhet Konar, who deserted the American army in World War II and, after his imprisonment, was killed in a hunting accident on the family land. Finally, in 1971, Hannah’s prodigal younger son, Sam, was reported missing in action in Vietnam.
Bo, Hannah’s remaining child, chooses a different path from his brother: Quiet, full of conviction, and with a firstborn’s sense of duty, Bo remains at home to grieve and to hope for reunion, to create new life, to embrace the land and work. From the narrative of this family’s experience, The Signal Flame emerges as a stirring novel about generations of men and women and the events that define them, old world values yielding to new world ways, and the convalescence of memory and hurt.
Beginning shortly after Easter in 1972 and ending on Christmas Eve, this ambitious novel gracefully evokes ordinary time, a period of living and working while waiting and watching and expecting. The Signal Flame is gorgeously written, honoring the cycles of earth and body, humming with blood and passion, and it confirms Andrew Krivák as a writer of extraordinary vision and power.
Praise for The Signal Flame
With The Signal Flame Andrew Krivák shows us what masterful fiction can do. Inch by inch he reveals the hidden life of a multi-generational family, its impossible tensions and their miraculous resolutions. The beauty of the language invites you to go deep and become involved in the unfolding story, worried about the characters and relieved at their physical and emotional survival. Like a dream the story swallowed me up, and I came out of it more aware of the narrative power of my own life.
Publication Date: 2011-04-09T14:25:41.142Z
National Book Award Finalist
Winner of The Chautauqua Prize
An Indie Next List selection: Great Reads from Booksellers You Trust
A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection
Winner 2012 Dayton Literary Peace Prize
Praise for The Sojourn
Unsentimental yet elegant…with ease [The Sojourn] joins the ranks of other significant works of fiction portraying World War I – Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front or Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms.
A Long Retreat available from Darnton Longman and Todd
The Letters of William Carlos Williams was Winner of the 2009 Louis Martz Prize