Join us for an exclusive evening with National Book Award Finalist Salvatore Scibona in conversation with Kassie Rose, book critic for WOSU Public Media, as they discuss his long-awaited new novel, The Volunteer, 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.
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.
With intense feeling, uncommon erudition, and bracing style, Scibona offers at once a pensive exploration of how we are capable of both inventing and discovering our true families and a lacerating interrogation of institutional power at its most commanding and terrifying. An odyssey of loss and salvation ranging across four generations of fathers and sons, The Volunteer is a triumph in the grandest traditions of American storytelling.
Salvatore Scibona's first novel, The End, was a finalist for the National Book Award and winner of the Young Lions Fiction Award. That novel began as a short story for which Scibona, ten years earlier, won Ohioana Library’s Marvin Grant for writers age 30 or younger who have not yet published a book. Scibona’s work has also 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.
Kassie Rose is the book critic for WOSU Public Media, 89.7 FM, a National Public Radio member station broadcasting throughout central Ohio. She discusses books with WOSU host Christopher Purdy on “Allsides Weekend: Books” and also reviews books for broadcast. An avid reader and book collector, Kassie is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and the Aldus Society, which is a local chapter of the national Fellowship of American Bibliophilic Societies (FABS). She writes about books on her blog TheLongestChapter.com.
Bexley Public Library, Kenyon Review and WOSU Public Media are Gramercy’s Community Partners for this exclusive event.