The Signal Flame A Novel


Cover image for The Signal Flame
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.

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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.

– Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul

The language in this beautiful book is as textured and rich–as quiet and grand and unforgettable–as its setting: a small Pennsylvania town tucked in the mountains.

It isn’t often that a story finds me making comparisons to literary greats from the first page. This is one of those books. In the end, what Krivák does is something all his own, and it is a triumph.

– Maaza Mengiste, author of Beneath the Lion’s Gaze

Andrew Krivák gives us characters and a community that could have come out of The Deer Hunter—men and women challenged by natural and human-made disasters, love and simmering hate. While these small town Pennsylvania people confront life’s big questions, the true north of the novel is in the day-to-day, the ordinary, where Krivák has found the extraordinary. A well-crafted novel, elegantly told, The Signal Flame is a testament to Krivák’s singular talent.

– Jesmyn Ward, author of Salvage the Bones and Men We Reaped.

Readers will hear some echoes of Faulkner in The Signal Flame, and even more of Kent Haruf in the simplicity, honesty, and wisdom of its prose. But what they’ll hear most is the deep, thoughtful, resonant voice of Andrew Krivák,a writer seemingly destined for great things.

– Richard Russo
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