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Salvation City Hardcover – September 16, 2010


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (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: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,340,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Review

"Nunez's writing is gorgeously spare, and she gets the life and the lingo of a teenage boy just right... In this gorgeously strange and apocalyptic coming-of- age novel, Nunez shows that the end of the world can offer a powerful possibility for a new beginning."
-The Boston Globe

"It's the near future, and Evangelicals have flocked to the rural Indiana town of the title, a post-apocalyptic haven in a world ravaged by a flu pandemic. Among these sheltered souls is Cole Vining, 13, an orphan who has been taken in by a preacher and his ditzy wife. Brought up by atheist parents in Chicago, Cole is disoriented by small-town life. . . . In this highly recognizable portrait of adolescent angst, Cole learns to define faith and freedom on his own terms as Nunez offers a candid look at both the comforts of religion and the glaring hypocrisy of some of its mosst ardent practicioners."
-More

"Nunez tells a fine tale, avoiding clichTs and providing powerful insights. To our surprise, we are equally draw to the Wyatt family and to Cole's dead parents: being fallible is what they have in common. Through Cole's eyes, the redemption offered by religion is offset by its hypocrisy; he finds his enlightenment not from dogma but from his own painful experiences. By the end of this satisfying, provocative and very plausible novel, Cole doesn't believe that the world is about to end. Instead 'he saw himself living a long time and going many places and doing many different things. 'Your whole life ahead of you'- never more than just an expressing before-now came to him with the ring of blessing."
-Abraham Verghese, The New York Times Book Review

"Cole Vining is one of the fortunate few. After a flu pandemic kills tens of thousands, including his parents, he's taken in by Pastor Wyatt, an evangelical leader in the Indiana town that gives the novel its title... With a cool, evenhanded tone, Nunez conjures a near future dark around the edges."
-The New York Times

"A flu pandemic kills millions and leaves surviviors to a chaos of shortages, looting, and violence-and that's just the beginning of Sigrid Nunez's wise and richly humane coming-of-age novel."
-O, the Oprah Magazine

"Atheists, a flu pandemic and a coming-of-age story collide in Nunez's sixth-and perhaps best-novel, Salvation City."
-Time Out New York

"Salvation City is not only timely and thought-provoking but also generous in its understanding of human nature. When apocalypse comes, I want Nunez in my lifeboat."
-Vanity Fair

"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 Nunez's sixth gripping novel, one of many recent literary postapocalyptic tales. Adept at matching psychological intricacy with edge-of-your-seat plots, the versatile Nunez gracefully entwines a classic coming-of-age story with a terrifying medical catastrophe and a profound battle between secular and religious viewpoints. . . . Nunez 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."
-Booklist

"Salvation City is a wonderful, great-hearted novel that finds love and hope in the unlikeliest of circumstances. Cole Vining is a latter-day Huck Finn, and we grieve and cheer for him as he makes his journey, both physical and spiritual, through a devastated world."
-Ron Rash, author of Serena

"Sigrid Nunez has long been one of my favorite authors because she writes with the deepest intelligence, the truest heart and the most surprising sense of humor. Salvation City is a tale of an American near-apocalypse that brings out the best of all these qualities. It reads beautifully, at time joyously, and it makes one reconsider the ordering of our world."
-Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story


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 www.sigridnunez.com.

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars
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See all 24 customer reviews
I'd read a three-star book again.
avanta7
As Cole grows into adulthood, he deals with issues of love and loss, faith and doubt, and selfishness and selflessness.
bert1761
Instead, the action just stops, and the book ends.
Ficwriter1966

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 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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5 of 6 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Goldengate TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Full disclosure dear reader... I didn't make it all the way through this book. That's very rare for me... once I make it half way into a book, I don't usually abandon it...I have too much invested. But I found myself daydreaming and not really caring that much about the characters. Judging from the other reviews, some have enjoyed it, so it might be worth a read if you find it in the bargain bin. But this is definitely NOT one of those "can't put it down" books...
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