“Lightman’s best book since Einstein’s Dreams . . . a piercing story of social dissolution in damaged Cambodia . . . an important story of global women’s rights.” —Annie Proulx
The stories of one Cambodian family are intricately braided together in Alan Lightman’s first work of fiction in seven years.
Three Flames portrays the struggles of a Cambodian farming family against the extreme patriarchal attitudes of their society and a cruel and dictatorial father, set in a rural community that is slowly being exposed to the modern world and its values. Ryna is a mother fighting against memories of her father’s death at the hands of the Khmer Rouge and her powerful desire for revenge. Daughter Nita is married off at sixteen to a wandering husband, while her sister Thida is sent to the city to work in the factories to settle their father’s gambling debt. Kamal, the only son, dreams of marrying the most beautiful girl in the village and escaping the life of a farmer. Yet it will be up to Sreypov, the youngest, to bravely challenge her father and strive for a better future.
Three Flames is a vivid story of one family’s yearning for freedom and of a young girl’s courage to face down tradition.
“Lyrical and poignant, Three Flames weaves the stories of three generations of a poor, Cambodian farming family as they struggle to survive and hold on to their humanity . . . Beautifully written and told with great compassion, Alan Lightman’s novel gives readers a family that is rich in stories, history, and heart, proving in the end that love shines even in the midst of great darkness.” —Loung Ung, author of First They Killed My Father
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