This event includes a book signing
September 4, 2019
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes award-winning writer and theoretical physicist ALAN LIGHTMAN for a discussion of his latest novel, Three Flames.
About Three Flames
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 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 courage against tradition, 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.
Praise for Three Flames
“It is rare for a writer who is not native to a place to speak with a voice so real, honest, and true. Lightman does not miss a detail, with every gesture, every word uttered, every word refrained reminding me of my homeland. He burrows into the complexity of the Cambodian way of life, with its intricate maze of memories, dreams, and ghosts and reveals an aching for love and acceptance that is universal.” —Kalyanee Mam, award-winning filmmaker of A River Changes Course
“The gentle pressure that individuality exerts against tradition is the concern of Alan Lightman’s Three Flames. This set of deft vignettes gathers up the strands of a rural Cambodian family’s life and shows them pulling in concert and in opposition. As always, Lightman stints neither in sympathy nor honesty, and this deceptively slim volume is a salute to that most cunning of human capacities: endurance.” —Gregory Maguire, author of Wicked
“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
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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While we can't guarantee fulfillment of a signed book pre-order, our authors are almost always able to sign extra books to fulfill such orders.
Ordering a signed book on harvard.com:
- Add the book to your shopping cart and then click Checkout.
- Specify in Order Comments that you want a signed copy of the book.
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