2011 National Book Award Finalist,

Andrew Krivak

The Sojourn

Bellevue Literary Press


Andrew Krivak


Uprooted from a nineteenth-century mining town in Colorado by a shocking family tragedy, young Jozef Vinich returns with his father to an impoverished shepherd’s life in rural Austria-Hungary. When war comes, Jozef is sent as a sharpshooter to the southern front, where he must survive the killing trenches, a perilous trek across the frozen Italian Alps, and capture by a victorious enemy. Strikingly contemporary though replete with evocative historical detail, The Sojourn will join the ranks of the great classic fiction of World War One.


Andrew Krivak is also the author of A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), a memoir about his eight years in the Jesuit Order, and the editor of The Letters of William Carlos Williams to Edgar Irving Williams, 1902-1912. The grandson of Slovak immigrants, he grew up in Pennsylvania and now lives with his wife and three children in Massachusetts. The Sojourn is his first novel.




My father had brought several books with him from America (including a Bible and a dictionary), books he kept on a shelf in the cabin and, after the midday meal or when the light hung on in summer, would read to me, sometimes having me take a chapter when he wanted to rest or smoke, so that in time English was the first language I could read well. Thoreau’s Walden, a slim volume of Walt Whitman’s poetry, a large, tattered version of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick (which we read from so often the pages fell out), and, my father’s greatest treasure, the personal memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant in two volumes bound in leather and kept together by a length of hide. And so, America became for me on those nights not a place but a voice, the voice of one man sitting alone at his table and telling another of what he had seen and had made—or would like yet to make, if there would be time—of the world.


If I could have ceased what pendulums swung, or wheels turned, or water clocks emptied, then, in order to keep the Fates from marching in time, I would have, for though it is what a boy naturally wishes when he fears change will come upon what he loves and take it away, a man remembers it, too, and in his heart wishes the same when all around him he feels only loss, loss that has been his companion for some time, and promises yet to remain at his side.

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.