The Sojourn: Book summary and reviews of The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak

The Sojourn

by Andrew Krivak

The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak X
The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak
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  • Published in USA  Apr 2011
    192 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

A 2011 National Book Award Finalist in Fiction, The Sojourn is the story of Jozef Vinich, who was uprooted from a 19th-century mining town in Colorado by a family tragedy and returns with his father to an impoverished shepherd’s life in rural Austria-Hungary. When World War One comes, Jozef joins his adopted brother as a sharpshooter in the Kaiser’s army, surviving a perilous trek across the frozen Italian Alps and capture by a victorious enemy.

A stirring tale of brotherhood, coming-of-age, and survival, that was inspired by the author’s own family history, this novel evokes a time when Czechs, Slovaks, Austrians, and Germans fought on the same side while divided by language, ethnicity, and social class in the most brutal war to date. It is also a poignant tale of fathers and sons, addressing the great immigration to America and the desire to live the American dream amidst the unfolding tragedy in Europe.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Unsentimental yet elegant ... with ease, [The Sojourn] joins the ranks of other significant works of fiction portraying World War I - Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front or Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. The ghost of Hemingway informs some of Krivak’s notes from the front lines, while several other literary influences seem to be evident in his slender book, including the Italian novelist and memoirist Primo Levi, himself the veteran of a very long walk through Europe, and, for obvious reasons, the Charles Frazier of Cold Mountain. Yet Krivak has his own voice, given to lyrical observations on the nature of human existence." - Kirkus Reviews

"Splendid ... a novel for anyone who has a sharp eye and ear for life." - NPR All Things Considered

"[A] powerful, assured first novel ... Packed with violence and death, yet wonderfully serene in its tone ... If the early pages of The Sojourn sometimes recall Cormac McCarthy (especially The Crossing), the heart of the book is a harrowing portrait of men at war." - Washington Post

"Surging in pace and momentum, The Sojourn is a deeply affecting narrative conjured by the rhythms of Krivak's superb and sinuous prose. Intimate and keenly observed, it is a war story, love story, and coming of age novel all rolled into one. I thought of Lermontov and Stendhal, Joseph Roth, and Cormac McCarthy as I read. But make no mistake. Krivak's voice and sense of drama are entirely his own." - Sebastian Smee of the Boston Globe

"Novels set during World War I (think of The English Patient or A Long Long Way) possess a desolation, violence and a desperate longing to go back, to return to life as it was lived before the war... [The Sojourn] is an ever-hopeful series of fresh starts and dashed hopes, a beautiful tale of persistence and dogged survival, set in the mountains, villages and battlefields of a Europe that exists only in memories and stories." - Los Angeles Times

"A captivating, thoughtful narrative... and poignant reminder of how humanity was so greatly affected by what was once called the war to end all wars." - Minneapolis Star Tribune

"[The Sojourn] can be read as a classic of war. It is beautifully plotted, as rapt and understated as a hymn. ... [Krivak] writes hunting scenes as evocative as those in The Deer Hunter. Then he outstrips that film in rending the harrowing and seductive elements of war." - Cleveland Plain Dealer

"[The Sojourn] deserves to be placed on the same shelf as Remarque, Hemingway and Heller... Krivak has written an anti-war novel with all the heat of a just-fired artillery gun." - Barnes and Noble Review/ Christian Science Monitor

"Hope for the future, the conversion of tragedy into meaning - lurks throughout The Sojourn’s lush and lyrical prose." - IMAGE: Art, Faith, Mystery

"An engrossing narrative that goes beyond a war novel into a character study of loss and redemption." - Rain Taxi Review of Books

"Krivak writes of war with the skill of a mature novelist/observer. Death, dysentery, starvation, chaos, amputation, prison. All are here in elegant prose - plus touches of rare beauty and tenderness as Jozef comes full circle with is past, his father, his country - even the idea of his father’s reverse migration. All of this in less than two hundred pages." - CounterPunch

"Editor's Choice. Deftly wrought, quietly told ... Krivak studied all the Great War novels before writing, and the result is a debut novel at home amongst those classics. Highly recommended." - Historical Novels Review

"Rendered in spare, elegant prose, yet rich in authentic detail, The Sojourn ... stands with the most memorable stories about World War I. Krivak's tale has an archetypal quality; it is a retelling of the hero's inner and outer journey through impossibly rugged landscapes, toward survival and wholeness." - ForeWord Reviews

"The Sojourn is a work of uncommon strength by a writer of rare and powerful elegance about a war, now lost to living memory, that echoes in headlines of international strife to this day." - Mary Doria Russell, author of Doc and The Sparrow

"The Sojourn is a fiercely wrought novel, populated by characters who lead harsh, even brutal lives, which Krivak renders with impressive restraint, devoid of embellishment or sentimentality. And yet - almost despite such a stoic prose style - his sentences accrue and swell and ultimately break over a reader like water: they are that supple and bracing and shining." - Leah Hager Cohen, author of House Lights

This information about The Sojourn shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Andrew Krivak Author Biography

Photo: Dario Prager

Andrew Krivak is the author of three novels: The Signal Flame (2017), a Chautauqua Prize finalist, The Sojourn (2011), a National Book Award finalist and winner of both the Chautauqua Prize and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for fiction, and The Bear (2020). He lives with his wife and three children in Somerville, Massachusetts, and Jaffrey, New Hampshire, in the shadow of Mount Monadnock, which inspired much of the landscape in The Bear.

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Link to Andrew Krivak's Website

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