The Volunteer

The Volunteer

Title:The Volunteer
ISBN:9780525558521
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:432 pages

A long-awaited new novel from Salvatore Scibona, National Book Award Finalist, 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.


    The Volunteer Reviews

  • Angela M

    3.5 starsThis was not an easy book to read. It’s a complex story, but my incentive to continue was the opening of the story where we see the world through the mind and eyes of Janis, a 5 year old bo...

  • Paltia

    An extremely intelligent page turner that’s as complex as they come. Nothing is as it seems. This one gripped me as I stayed awake till the break of dawn to finish. Nothing like what I expected. ...

  • Mike A.

    The Volunteer by Salvatore Scibona is a solid work of contemporary literature and also a good read. I stayed up most of the night to finish it -- on a work night no less, so yea, it grabs! Mr. Scibona...

  • Madeline

    I just didn’t find myself wanting to continue onwards. The beginning put me off a lot, and the main character didn’t seem that redeeming. I also don’t think I’m in the mood for a war novel rig...

  • Jonathanrwilson

    This book is stunning in many ways -- the quality of the writing and the sweep of the story that it tells are astounding. Scibona writes perfect sentences, and is also able to create some truly memora...

  • Brie

    I won this book in a Goodreads First Reads contest.I really wanted to like this book. It had a promising storyline and I started to read it.I have decided in 2019 to only read a few chapters of books ...

  • Nikki

    I got my hands on an ARC through the variety box delivered to my work back in October.I read about a hundred pages and had to put it down. DNF.The premise was....enough to pick the book up, I guess. B...

  • lisa

    When I received an ARC of this book I read most of it over lunch breaks, and annoyed my co-workers by constantly changing my mind about this book. Did I like it, or did I hate it? Was a piece of misog...

  • Richard

    Stream of consciousness as a self-conscious tediously useless genre been attempted since tropic of cancer. But Scibona has found a way to embed exquisitely poignant jewels amidst the litter to make th...

  • Chaya Nebel

    I tried to get through this tortuously written novel and just could not make it. I had no interest in Vollie, not the way he is portrayed here, in sometimes confusing and contradictory ways. Any time ...