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Comment: This book has already been loved by someone else. It MIGHT have some wear and tear on the edges, have some markings in it, or be an ex-library book. Over-all it is still a good book at a great price! (if it is supposed to contain a CD or access code, that may be missing)
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Salvation City Hardcover – September 16, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Things come undone with shocking rapidity when a flu pandemic ravages America. Cole, the son of liberal atheists and a smart, self-contained boy who loves to draw and counts explorer among his favorite words, narrates Nuñez’s sixth gripping novel, one of many recent literary postapocalyptic tales. Adept at matching psychological intricacy with edge-of-your-seat plots, the versatile Nuñez gracefully entwines a classic coming-of-age story with a terrifying medical catastrophe and a profound battle between secular and religious viewpoints. The pandemic orphans and nearly kills Cole, who ends up living with a kindhearted Evangelical pastor and his wife in Salvation City, a community preparing for the Rapture. It’s all bible studies, guns, rapture children, and saved adults, including fiercely tattooed, one-eyed Mason. As Cole emerges from a thicket of grief and the confusion of sexual awakening and recognizes and trusts his hunger for education and the larger world, however damaged and dangerous, Nuñez brilliantly contrasts epic social failure and tragedy with the unfurling of one promising life, reminding us that even in the worst of times, we seek coherence, discovery, and connection. --Donna Seaman


"The great success of Nunez's book is that the end of the world is filtered through Cole's imperfect perspective, so that the collapse of society is no more devastating than first love, and deeply felt conflict rages as a young man tries to find something worth preserving in a place determined to obliterate the past. " ---Publishers Weekly --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

More to Explore
Read an excerpt from Sigrid Nunez's novel, Salvation City [PDF].

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books (September 16, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594487669
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594487668
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 6.1 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,034,436 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Sigrid Nunez was born in New York City, the daughter of a German mother and a Chinese-Panamanian father, whose lives she drew on for part of her first novel, A FEATHER ON THE BREATH OF GOD (1995). She went on to write five more novels, including THE LAST OF HER KIND (2006) and, most recently, SALVATION CITY (2010). She is also the author of SEMPRE SUSAN: A MEMOIR OF SUSAN SONTAG (2011). Her honors include a Whiting Writers' Award, a Rome Prize, a Berlin Prize, and the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Learn more at

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Linzi on September 26, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Salvation City is the most unassuming post-apocalyptic story I've ever read. After a flu pandemic devastates the near-future, a young orphaned boy named Cole is taken in by a Christian fundamentalist preacher and his wife. So Cole has to re-adjust from a secular urban lifestyle to a religious rural one, in addition to growing pains and the difficulty of having lost his parents.

Small town life in Indiana was portrayed well, and well-drawn characters are one of the book's strong suits. I did, however, miss the more typical dystopian/post-apocalyptic details of the genre - the pandemic only provides a fragile background for the story, whereas I had expected such a severe experience to, more realistically, drastically alter life and even the way people thought about their society for years afterward. So that aspect of the book felt flat to me. But the coming of age story, the nuanced personalities and relationships of Cole's family and almost-family, is told thoughtfully and sympathetically.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Frederick S. Goethel VINE VOICE on August 7, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Cole Vining is a young teen that gets uprooted from all he has known to move from Chicago to a college town in Indiana. He has trouble fitting in to the community when a flu epidemic strikes around the world. He contracts the flu, as do all his living relatives and he ends up as the only survivor in his family. Following his recuperation, he is placed in an orphanage for adoption. Services have broken down, chaos has ensued, and the orphanage is unable to cope with all the children, so he is taken in as a foster child by a pastor and his wife. The town where they live is in rural Indiana and different from any place the boy has known. As he transitions into living in a small, rural, highly religious community, things begin to change and suddenly he is faced with a number of hard choices.

Generally, I found the book to be thought provoking in some of the situations it presented. Are we, and the country, ready for a massive flu pandemic and what would happen if you were to die suddenly? How would you or your children react to being placed in a completely new situation that you are totally unfamiliar with? There are more questions raised, however I would be giving away the plot if I discussed them.

I found the writing, at first, to seem simplistic. The description of the flu pandemic read, to me, like the script from a bad sci-fi movie, yet as the book progressed I was drawn into the story and found it to be gripping and thought provoking. I ended up enjoying the book greatly, and only wished the author hadn't been quite so wild with the description of the pandemic.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By bert1761 VINE VOICE on September 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I read "Salvation City" in a single afternoon. I was thoroughly engrossed in the story,, the characters, the ides and the author's beautifully direct prose. I have read a number of "post-apocalyptic" novels lately and "Salvation City" up there with the best of them (notably, Margaret Atwood's "The Year of The Flood"), but it is quite different from most. The "apocalypse" in "Salvation City" is simpler and more straightforward, and life in the aftermath is much less different than in other novels from the pre-event reality. In fact, the flu pandemic in "Salvation City," while setting the stage for the novel, really was not altogether necessary; it just provided a distinctive framework in which to present a contemporary coming-of-age novel.

Cole Vining was born to atheists (one of whom was formerly Jewish) is orphaned by a flu pandemic and is fostered, during his pubescence, by an evangelical preacher and his cancer-surivivor wife. As Cole grows into adulthood, he deals with issues of love and loss, faith and doubt, and selfishness and selflessness. The author is remarkably even-handed in presenting the "grist" for Cole's "mill" and, while many of the characters are, she is never judgmental. Rather, she leaves Cole to make his own choices, and the reader to respect all the possibilities Cole considers in making those choices.

In the end, the reader is fully in love with each of the characters, accepting all of their wonderful qualities, as well as their significant, but very human, flaws. I was moved deeply. As a result, I will be purchasing and reading other works by Ms. Nunez shortly.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Ficwriter1966 on December 6, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Wonderful concept: an orphaned boy (the son of atheists) is taken in by a Christian Fundamentalist couple following a flu pandemic, and begins to accept them as his family. Beautifully drawn, three-dimensional characters, interesting setting.

But where is the rest of it? That's the feeling I had when I reached the final page. The final section of the book contains two terrific plot points that should have spun the story into a new direction. Instead, the action just stops, and the book ends. Nothing comes of the two potentially life-changing events. And that's a terrible disappointment - one that comes close to making me wish I hadn't bothered to read the book in the first place. If you're interested in nuances of character, you may enjoy Salvation City. But if you're looking for a satisfying *story*, my advice would be to try a different book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Haugh VINE VOICE on January 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is the third Nunez novel I've read, though it's been quite awhile since the second one, Naked Sleeper. Not that there haven't been novels in between. I just haven't read them. The reason is because I found her writing, though of a very personal style, to be very slow-paced and rather boring. I likely wouldn't have read another Nunez novel but I heard about the plot and I have an abiding interest in stories about worldwide plagues so I decided to give her another chance.

In this novel, a flu pandemic has devastated America. Not to the point of collapse--an interesting tack--but enough to impact the typical flow of life. Cole, the young protagonist of this story, has lost his parents and spent a long time being sick himself. After some time in an orphanage, he ends up in Salvation City, dominated by a small Christian sect. He has been taken in by a local minister and his wife. We learn much of what has happened through Cole's memories, as he navigates his new life and environment.

There are strong points to this novel. The plot is clever and Cole is a strong character. However, for a world filled with difficulties and occasional horrors, again Nunez has produced something fairly bland. I was not pulled along by the story as I hoped I would be and I was left cold by the ending. I know Nunez is admired by some, but her style does not appeal to me, even when she has a strong plot.
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