The stunning second novel from National Book Award finalist Andrew Krivák—“an extraordinarily elegant writer, with a deep awareness of the natural world” (The New York Times Book Review)—tells the heartbreaking, captivating story about a family awaiting the return of their youngest son from the Vietnam War.
In a small town in northeastern Pennsylvania, Hannah and her son Bo mourn the loss of the family patriarch, Jozef. They were three generations under one roof; a war-haunted family in a war-torn century. Jozef was conscripted into the Austro-Hungarian army in World War I. His American-born daughter’s husband, Bexhet, an immigrant, fights in World War II—returning to Dardan, Pennsylvania, only to be taken in a hunting accident on Hannah’s family’s land. Finally, Hannah’s younger son, Sam, goes MIA in Vietnam.
And so there is only Bo, a quiet man full of sorrow and conviction and a firstborn’s sense of duty. He is left to grieve but also to hope for reunion, to fall in love and create a new life, to embrace the land and work its mountain soil. The Signal Flame is a stirring exploration—the second stand-alone novel in a trilogy that began with the National Book Award finalist The Sojourn—of generations of men and the events that define them, brothers who take different paths, the old European values yielding to new world ways, and the convalescence of memory and war.
Beginning shortly after Easter in 1972 and ending on Christmas Eve—as the Vietnam War winds down—this ambitious novel honors the cycles of earth and body, humming with blood and passion, and it confirms as a writer of extraordinary vision and power. Andrew Krivák’s The Signal Flame is “a complex and layered portrait of a time and place, and a family shaped, generation after generation, by the memory of war” (The Boston Globe).
National Book Award finalist Kriv k continues in the tradition of his debut (The Sojourn) with this bleak but breathtaking second novel. The book opens with the death of the family patriarch, Jozef Vinich, who leaves his sprawling farm in Pennsylvania's rural Endless Mountains to his daughter, Hannah, and oldest grandson, Bo. While Bo runs the roughing mill, Hannah tends the chickens, and the two await the return of Bo's brother, Sam, who is reported MIA in Vietnam. Told in three parts stretching from Easter to Christmas Eve 1972, the narrative soon picks up steam with the addition of Ruth, Sam's pregnant fianc e, and the daughter of the man responsible for killing Hannah's husband in a hunting mishap. By the third section, more backstory has been revealed Ruth's ancestors' ties to Vinich's land, Sam's reasons for enlisting, Hannah's long-held grudge against Ruth's father adding texture and depth to the family's already rich history. Devastating accidents befall these characters and the heartache they endure is palpable. But there's love, too. This family saga is quiet at its core, but it's Kriv k's gorgeous prose and deep grasp of the relationship between longing and loss that make the book such a stunner.