Talking Volumes: Dani Shapiro on 'Signal Fires'

Dani Shapiro talks with Kerri Miller for Talking Volume on Oct. 28 about her book, “Signal Fires,” and what she’s learned about family secrets.

Dani Shapiro knows a thing or two about family secrets.

Her early novels center around identity and family history. Her 2019 memoir, “Inheritance,” beautifully chronicles what happened after she discovered, at age 54, that the man she considers her dad was not her biological father.

That discovery spawned a popular podcast that just kicked off its eighth season, “Family Secrets,” which features guests who’ve also stumbled across a family secret.

So it naturally flows that her new novel, “Signal Fires,” returns the to same theme.

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This time, a secret both bonds and cripples an entire family. Shapiro skillfully follows the Wilf’s outward success and inward disintegration as she hops through time, playing with ideas of change, shame, grief and interconnectedness.

Those same themes anchor the discussion she and MPR News host Kerri Miller had at Talking Volumes. Shapiro was on stage at the Fitzgerald Theater on Oct. 28 for a thoughtful and insightful conversation about regret, shame, seasons of life — and how she has become a beacon for secrets of all kinds.

Also on stage for this third Talking Volumes event: musical guest Jourdan Myers.


  • Dani Shapiro is a bestselling novelist and memoirist and host of the podcast Family Secrets. Her new novel, “Signal Fires,” was released Oct. 18.

To listen to a lightly edited version of the Talking Volumes conversation, use the audio player above. You can also watch the full event via the embedded video, or look for it on YouTube.

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