Reviews

  • "A magnificent counterpoint of four generations of fathers and sons... Like DeLillo in [Underworld], Scibona wreaks an epic from the lives of ordinary, supposedly negligible men. Scibona has built a masterpiece."

    New York Times Book Review
  • "[Scibona is] a born novelist: He conveys a world in a detail. Scibona can take us into the broken heart of a child lost in a foreign airport, the shattering chaos of a night assault during the Vietnam War and the quiet intensity of a working-class New York neighborhood... Work like The Volunteer can never be one thing only, upbeat or down. It’s teeming, brilliantly."

    The Washington Post
  • "Salvatore Scibona’s exhilarating new novel [is]… a searing record of war and the lies people live by… Despite all the destruction and despair, in this novel hope emerges as the wildest high."

    Economist
  • "What perfect pitch, what perfect rhythm. These are sentences that are in love with the world and that make us love the world, too."

    The Boston Globe
  • "Scibona is a remarkable writer and The Volunteer is a remarkable book... It is a war story unlike any other war story, a story of fathers and sons, of family (both biological and manufactured) and of generations of betrayal and abandonment... All of it — all of it — is just so ridiculously beautiful."

    NPR
  • "Salvatore Scibona is gravely, terminally, a born writer – a high artist and exquisite craftsman. Yes his sentences are perfect but not merely; a surplus of dark and tender wisdom, who knows its source, makes his language – and the world – glow with meaning."

    Rachel Kushner
  • "The Volunteer is a wonder right from page one, lovely in its language and aching in its insights."

    Victor LaValle
  • "This magnificent and deeply moving novel by Salvatore Scibona, one of our most masterful writers, has at its heart the simple and compelling tale of a small boy abandoned in a foreign airport and a mysterious ‘volunteer’ who all his life, without knowing it, is trying to find him. In stunningly inventive prose, Scibona models the world through which these two beautifully drawn lost souls stumble—an infinitely-interconnected and repeating fractal of airplane routes and inscrutable tongues, of arbitrary hubs and meaningless destinations, of escapes and hideouts, of swarming megalopoli improbably wired to pitiful ghost towns such as only America can hide in its empty middle. All this under the crosshatched shadow of the military, for Scibona’s portrait of the way we live now is also, necessarily, a novel about war. The Volunteer is so brave, tough and admirable you are on his side before you recognize what you are looking at. He is the good soldier, the man who fights America’s wars."

    Jaimy Gordon
  • "Salvatore Scibona is a virtuoso and The Volunteer is a majestic, magnificent, frankly epic work of art. Characters with the most modest, vulnerable lives transform from 'nobodies' into full, precious human souls, steeped in pathos, tragedy, and a seemingly unstoppable heritage of particularly American violence. What tenderness and love they manage to wrest from their lives becomes nothing less than heroic and starkly, luminously beautiful."

    Paul Harding
  • "Scibona’s lyrical yet muscular prose anchors this majestic work as he probes deep philosophical questions about family, identity, belonging, and sacrifice... Scibona’s greatest strength is his ability to inhabit each character with profound psychological depth to explore their guilt, doubt, and humanity. This novel rewards close reading and deserves wide readership."

    Booklist (starred review)

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