Dani Shapiro

Signal Fires: A Gripping New Novel From the Author of Inheritance


A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK: LA Times, Time Magazine, LitHub, BookPage, Library Journal, The Millions, She Reads, Oprah Daily, Vanity Fair, Bustle, Real Simple

BOOK OF THE MONTH (UK): Women & Home, Good Housekeeping

One Night. One Fateful Choice. A Constellation of Lives Changed Forever.

Change one thing and everything changes. One summer night in 1985, the lives of three teenagers are shattered by a horrific car crash, resulting in the death of a young woman near a sprawling oak tree that marks the perimeter of 18 Division Street. For the Wilf family, it will become the deepest kind of family secret, one so dangerous it can never be spoken. By the time the Shenkmans move in across the street—a young couple expecting a baby boy—the accident has become a distant memory. But when Waldo Shenkman, a brilliant but lonely child, befriends Ben Wilf, a retired doctor who is struggling with his wife’s decline, the Wilfs’ and the Shenkmans’ lives and fates become deeply entwined, and the past comes hurtling back to Division Street, setting in motion a chain of spellbinding events that will transform both families forever. Riveting, emotional, impossible to put down, a literary and commercial tour de force, and a work of haunting beauty and complexity by a masterly storyteller at the height of her powers.

Stunning in depth and breadth, this luminous examination of loss and acceptance, furtiveness and reliability, abandonment and friendship ultimately blazes with profound revelations . . . Like creating an intricate origami puzzle, Shapiro folds together the events that define these lives over decades, focusing on specific interludes to divulge old secrets or bury new ones. Returning to fiction after touching readers with her courageous and probing memoirs, including Inheritance, Shapiro delivers keen perceptions about family dynamics via fictional characters that exude a rare combination of substance and delicacy.

- Booklist (starred)

A beautiful exploration of the connections between two families and the reverberations from a teenager’s lie . . . Shapiro imagines in luminous prose how each of the characters’ lives might have gone if things had turned out differently.

[Shapiro’s] well-developed characters and their interesting careers seal the deal.

Acclaimed novelist/memoirist Shapiro (Inheritance) writes with compassion and a deep understanding of the damage that secrets wreak. Shapiro’s first novel in 15 years was well worth the wait.

Shapiro’s first novel in 15 years tracks three generations on one suburban street through the prism of a drunk-driving accident that unearths several terrible secrets. The author’s attention to craft is so detailed, so invisible, that 250 pages feel simultaneously taut and timeless, especially as a friendship between an elderly man and an adolescent boy allows many of the characters to attain something approaching closure.

The celebrated memoirist returns to fiction with a lyrical and propulsive novel in which a horrific crash leaves a young woman dead and the driver’s family closing ranks around him. The secrets and cover-ups that result will haunt the family for generations to come, but it’s the richly drawn characters and moody atmospheric that make the book hard to put down.

Has everything she’s been through — we’ve been through — spawned Shapiro’s most spiritual work? In a construction as delicate as needlework but deceptively sturdy as one of Andy Goldsworthy’s stone walls, Shapiro shows in fiction what she’s spent decades teasing out in memoir: That our lives are ruled by subtle human connections we sometimes fail to understand because few of us are wholly plugged into the unseen forces that affect our lives.

A powerful work. Signal Fires doesn’t shy away from loss but seeks to balance grief with grace. Shapiro’s novel offers the comfort of a view from the stars.

Vividly detailed and choreographed…[Shapiro’s] crisp prose propels the reader onward. Signal Fires is a haunting, propulsive story about time, secrets and family.

In this meditative portrait of tragedy’s long-lasting effects, Shapiro, also a bestselling memoirist, peers into the decades that follow to find the passages, ideas and unexpected connections that gradually, somehow, heal.

- People Magazine

Gorgeous… Have your tissues ready.

- Real Simple

Ben Wilf has come to believe we live in loops rather than one straight line. [This] line… has seared itself into me.

Shapiro is one of the grand masters of family stories, and her first novel in 15 years further cements that status.

- Good Housekeeping

 Signal Fires…lyrically examin[es] the ways a single event can alter many lives forever.

Deeply poignant.

Shapiro’s tender and philosophical novel oscillates between timeframes and perspectives, exploring loneliness, penitence and the connectedness of all human experience.

Gripping from the start…beautifully written, Shapiro explores time, memory and our human interconnectedness to create a tender, moving portrayal of the ripple effect one event and on person’s actions can have on many lives.

- Women & Home (UK)

I loved Dani Shapiro’s beautiful memoir Inheritance…this new novel [Signal Fires], which lyrically examines the ways a single event can alter many lives for ever, is just wonderful.