"Three Flames is Alan Lightman's best book since Einstein's Dreams. It is unusual for a writer to plunge so deeply into perceived social injustice in another culture, but the depth and detailed accuracy of Three Flames shows us humans working through big and serious changes in traditional beliefs and practices. Today we need such knowledge." --Annie Proulx The stories of one Cambodian family are intricately braided together in Alan Lightman's haunting Three Flames, his first work of fiction in six years. Three Flames portrays the struggles of a Cambodian farming family against the extreme patriarchal attitudes of their society and the cruel and dictatorial father, set against a rural community that is slowly being exposed to the modern world and its values. A mother must fight against memories of her father's death at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, and her powerful desire for revenge. A daughter is married off at sixteen to a wandering husband and his domineering aunt; another daughter is sent to the city to work in the factories to settle her father's gambling debt. A son dreams of marrying the most beautiful girl of the village and escaping the life of a farmer. And the youngest daughter bravely challenges her father so she can stay in school and strive for a better future. A vivid story of revenge and forgiveness, of a culture smothering the dreams of freedom, and of tradition against courage, Three Flames grows directly from Lightman's work as the founder of the Harpswell Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance a new generation of female leaders in Cambodia and all of Southeast Asia.
About the Author
ALAN LIGHTMAN--who worked for many years as a theoretical physicist--is the author of six novels, including the international bestseller Einstein's Dreams, as well as The Diagnosis, a finalist for the National Book Award. He is also the author of a memoir, three collections of essays, and several books on science. His work has appeared in The Atlantic, Granta, Harper's Magazine, The New Yorker, The New York Review of Books, Salon, Nature, and Nautilus, among other publications. He has taught at Harvard and at MIT, where he was the first person to receive a dual faculty appointment in science and the humanities. In 2003, Lightman founded the Harpswell Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to empower a new generation of women leaders in Cambodia and Southeast Asia. He lives in the Boston area.