The Sojourn

 

 

This splendid first novel that comes in under 200 pages, but tells a much larger story, a story — yes, let’s invoke Tolstoy — of war and peace.

Krivak’s main character, an American born Slovak boy named Jozef Vinich, comes into the world on the western frontier at the turn of the 20th century, but because of a fateful accident, gets whisked back to the old country by his Slovakian father. There in the cold mountains of the Austria-Hungarian empire, Jozef learns the ways and wiles of a hardscrabble life and discovers his gift for sharpshooting. He volunteers to go to war-- this is World War I, of course-- and finds himself on the other side of the front from that Italian army most American readers know best from Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms.

Though this compact and powerful novel never so much celebrates war as it does the power of the mind to recall it and the power of language that can describe it, which is the beginning of the making of peace. Sharpshooter Jozef's winter sojourn in the battle ravaged mountains of his homeland is truly a story that celebrates, in its stripped down but resonant fashion, the flow between creation and destruction we all call life.

— Alan Cheuse and April Smith
2012 finalist judges

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Excerpt from the book

One morning as I looked down at the river flowing below through a valley already turning into a tapestry of greens, yellows, and whites as far as the blue of the Adriatic, and back to the still snow-capped and windblown mountain range behind, rising sheer and all at once far into the Alps, I realized that I had no desire and no drive to fight anymore, no rage at having been wronged somehow, no belief in the right and purpose of kings. I only longed to turn back and climb and begin life all over again in a place where I might find the peace I once knew in mountains of another time and another place, and I wondered once again – if I could slip out of camp unobserved – if I just might be able to stay hidden and uncaptured until this war came to an end.

[Excerpt from The Sojourn. Copyright © 2011 by Andrew Krivak. Published by Bellevue Literary Press: www.blpress.org. Reprinted by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.]



2012 Fiction Winner

Click to see award video
Click to see video

(Click photo to see acceptance speech at awards dinner.)

Andrew Krivak
The Sojourn

The Sojourn came out of the stories my grandmother and my mother (her name was Irene, which means “peace”) told of a time and a place in “the old country” during the Great War, when peace was not easily found, yet men and women lived and died hoping for it.

“So, when I sat down to write my first novel, I decided that it would be a story around that war, but also about that peace and those small acts of surrender in people’s lives that become profound moments of salvation. To have this small act of a book honored with the Dayton Literary Peace Prize is humbling, and beyond my greatest expectations.”

— Andrew Krivak                        

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Andrew Krivak is the author of the novel The Sojourn, a National Book Award finalist and winner of the Chautauqua Prize and Dayton Literary Peace Prize. The grandson of Slovak immigrants, Krivak grew up in Pennsylvania, has lived in London, and now lives with his wife and three children in Massachusetts where he teaches in the Arts and Sciences Honors Program at Boston College.

Visit his web site at www.andrewkrivak.com.


 
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