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The Volunteer by Salvatore Scibona

 

“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 Good Soldier: Salvatore Scibona and Téa Obreht

Thursday March 21, 2019
07:00 pm

Tags: Event

A long-awaited new novel from a National Book Award Finalist, The Volunteer is the epic story of a restless young man who is captured during the Vietnam War and pressed into service for a clandestine branch of the United States government.

 

Photos by Beowulf Sheehan

A small boy speaking an unknown language is abandoned by his father at an international airport, with only the clothes on his back and a handful of money jammed in the pocket of his coat. So begins The Volunteer. But in order to understand this heartbreaking and indefensible decision, the story must return to the moment, decades earlier, when a young man named Vollie Frade, almost on a whim, enlists in the United States Marine Corps to fight in Vietnam. Breaking definitively from his rural Iowan parents, Vollie puts in motion an unimaginable chain of events, which sees him go to work for insidious people with intentions he cannot yet grasp. From the Cambodian jungle, to a flophouse in Queens, to a commune in New Mexico, Vollie’s path traces a secret history of life on the margins of America, culminating with an inevitable and terrible reckoning.

 

Salvatore Scibona discussed The Volunteer with Téa Obreht, author of the hit novel, The Tiger's Wife

 


SALVATORE SCIBONA's first novel, The End, was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Young Lions Fiction Award. His work has won a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize, an O. Henry Award, and a Whiting Award and the New Yorker named him one of its “20 Under 40” fiction writers to watch. He directs the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library.

TÉA OBREHT was born in Belgrade, in the former Yugoslavia, in 1985 and has lived in the United States since the age of twelve. Her debut novel, The Tiger’s Wife, won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction, and was a National Book Award Finalist and an international bestseller. Her work has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Non-Required Reading, and has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Vogue and Esquire. She was a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree, and was named by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best American fiction writers under forty. In 2013, she was the Rona Jaffe Foundation fellow at the Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers. A recipient of the 2016 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, she lives in New York City and teaches at Hunter College.