Publication Date: Jan 24, 2017
The stunning second novel from National Book Award finalist Andrew Krivák—a heartbreaking, captivating story about a family awaiting the return of their youngest son from the Vietnam War.
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.