The Signal Flame (Hardcover)

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This book is quiet in many ways—the language is sparse, and the characters are soft spoken and reserved, tucked away in heavily wooded and secluded Endless Mountains of Northeastern Pennsylvania during the tumultuous years of the Vietnam War. But its quietness also yields a certain power, especially given the many tragedies that befall the novel’s central family, the Konars. Rather than focus directly on the gravity of each situation, Krivak lovingly crafts a story that focuses on the small moments of interaction, the little scenes that make up a family’s experience of love and loss, some of these gestures wordless—a lovingly crafted wooden chest to house letters, a late night cup of tea. A moving and immersive winter read.

— From Margaret's Picks


The stunning second novel from National Book Award finalist Andrew Krivak--a heartbreaking, captivating story about a family awaiting the return of their youngest son from the Vietnam War.

In a small town in Pennsylvania's Endless Mountains Hannah and her son Bo mourn the loss of the family patriarch, Jozef Vinich. They were three generations under one roof. Three generations, but only one branch of a scraggy tree; they are a war-haunted family in a war-torn century. Having survived the trenches of World War I as an Austro-Hungarian conscript, Vinich journeyed to America and built a life for his family. His daughter married the Hungarian-born Bexhet Konar, who enlisted to fight with the Americans in the Second World War but brought disgrace on the family when he was imprisoned for desertion. He returned home to Pennsylvania a hollow man, only to be killed in a hunting accident on the family's land. Finally, in 1971, Hannah's prodigal younger son, Sam, was reported MIA in Vietnam.

And so there is only Bo, a quiet man full of conviction, a proud work ethic, and a firstborn's sense of duty. He is left to grieve but also to hope for reunion, to create a new life, to embrace the land and work its soil through the seasons. The Signal Flame is a stirring novel about generations of men and women 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 this ambitious novel beautifully 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 Krivak as a writer of extraordinary vision and power.
Product Details
ISBN: 9781501126376
ISBN-10: 1501126377
Publisher: Scribner Book Company
Publication Date: January 24th, 2017
Pages: 272
Language: English