Dani Shapiro

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

NATIONAL BEST SELLER • From the beloved author of Inheritance: “a haunting, moving, and propulsive exploration of family secrets” (Meg Wolitzer, author of The Interestings)

TIME Best Fiction Book of the Year • An NPR Best Book of the Year • A Washington Post Notable Work of Fiction • A Real Simple Best Book of the Year • Winner of The National Jewish Book Award


Two families. One night. A constellation of lives changed forever.

An ancient majestic oak stands beneath the stars on Division Street. And under the tree sits Ben Wilf, a retired doctor, and ten-year-old Waldo Shenkman, a brilliant, lonely boy who is pointing out his favorite constellations. Waldo doesn’t realize it but he and Ben have met before. And they will again, and again. Across time and space, and shared destiny.

Division Street is full of secrets. An impulsive lie begets a secret—one which will forever haunt the Wilf family. And the Shenkmans, who move into the neighborhood many years later, bring secrets of their own.. Spanning fifty kaleidoscopic years, on a street—and in a galaxy—where stars collapse and stories collide, these two families become bound in ways they never could have imagined.

Urgent and compassionate, 
Signal Fires is a magical story for our times, a literary tour de force by a masterful storyteller at the height of her powers. A luminous meditation on family, memory, and the healing power of interconnectedness.

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.

Signal Fires is a great novel, but it’s also something rarer: a good novel, one that shines with deep truths about what it is to love someone, lose them, and live on.

…A family saga, but a book about destiny too, the unavoidable push and pull of choice and chanceCleverly crafted…lyrical and sharp…the effect is strange, discombobulating and beautiful.

Shapiro weaves a compulsive, tender narrative that flits between viewpoints and time frames in its quest for connectivity.

- The Daily Mail (UK)
Gripping from the start… Beautifully written, Dani Shapiro explores time, memory, and our human interconnectedness to create a moving portrayal of the ripple effect one event and one person’s actions can have on many lives.
- Woman's Weekly (UK)