He conveys a world in a detail. Scibona can also 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. Throughout, his ear-perfect dialogue percolates. Still, the moments of ecstasy are what most distinguish this book, one that trots the globe yet misses nothing ... The scope is far grander than in Scibona’s 2008 debut, The End (a National Book Award finalist), though the style remains jewel-like ... It’s teeming, brilliantly.
...outstanding, expansive ... Like King Lear that great exploration of 'unaccommodated man,' The Volunteer dramatizes the beauty and terror of self-undoing — and the role love might play in reconstituting a life ... The Volunteer is epic every way ... The prose in The Volunteer is less obviously brilliant than it was in The End; the style is quieter, almost restrained for stretches. But the lyrical heights of this second novel are, if anything, even higher ... The Volunteer will be described as a great historical novel, and it is.
... a war story unlike any other war story ... Sound dull? You're wrong. Tired and worn-out? Not even a little. Not here, in Scibona's hands, where the simplest things (nature, pride, a white t-shirt, the taste of water from one's home place) become mythic and strange, almost magical, imbued with meanings beyond the plain fact of their existence ... the way Scibona writes, there are few moments that don't feel enlivened with something ... more. Something extra. Some secret power of history, family or fate thrumming away unseen behind the curtains of the world, driving events. Some force that everyone who's paying attention can sense but not see, that drives a chain of bad decisions and selfish acts that echo down through generations of families ... Scibona is a remarkable writer and The Volunteer is a remarkable book.