Person To Watch
Published: Thursday, May 3, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Boston College’s faculty is frequently lauded for its members’ impressive achievements. The Arts & Sciences Honors department is proud to boast a number of remarkable individuals, including professor Andrew Krivak. The author of the junior year honors seminar’s common text, The Sojourn (Bellevue Literary Press), Krivak was shortlisted for the National Book Award in 2011. Last week, he was awarded the first ever Chautauqua Prize. From the website, this prize is “…a new national prize that celebrates a book of fiction or literary/narrative nonfiction that provides a richly rewarding reading experience and honors the author for a significant contribution to the literary arts.” It was presented to him by the Chautauqua Institute, a non-profit adult education center located in Chautauqua, N.Y.
A reviewer on Amazon calls The Sojourn a “high recommended addition to a library of World War I literature,” and praises Krivak’s “precision and beauty” in his writing. It is a coming-of-age story that contains fragments from the professor’s own family history. The story follows a young boy, Josef Vinich (which means “the vine” in Slovak), who sneaks his way into the army with an altered identification card in order to join his cousin Zlee as a sharpshooter. The two boys forge a strong brotherly bond that makes them a formidable pair of marksmen. The young Josef’s past is haunted by tragedies, and as he grows up in the midst of a war, it becomes apparent that this is no fairy tale. It’s a harrowing story about the tough stuff in life, but it’s also about family, love, and trudging forward. After the war, Josef must learn to start over and return to everyday life.
Along with the Chautauqua Prize, the book was also chosen as Washington Post’s Notable Book of the Year for 2011 and National Public Radio’s Top 5 Book Club Pick. As a debut novel, it has done incredibly well, and is already considered a must-read by many.
The Sojourn is Professor Krivak’s first novel, but not his first book—he is also the author of A Long Retreat: In Search of a Religious Life, which is a much-lauded memoir about his time in the Jesuit Order. He spent eight years with the Society of Jesus before making the difficult decision to leave. He is now married with three children and lives in Massachusetts. He holds multiple degrees, including an MFA from Columbia University. In addition to BC, Krivak has taught at Harvard and the College of the Holy Cross. He has also written for The New York Times, DoubleTake, and Boston College Magazine. Currently, he teaches his sophomore honors seminar about the many faces of Nature and Romanticism, from Keats’ odes to Moby Dick.