9,000 Hours With Salvatore Scibona

I’ve only read one of the fiction finalists for the National Book AwardMarilynne Robinson‘s Home—so I don’t have much to say about the mini-controversy over whether Peter Matthiessen‘s Shadow Country should have been considered. (Back in May, Michael Dirda argued in the New York Review of Books that the novel should be considered distinct from the three previously published novels that feed it.) In confess, though, that Salvatore Scibona‘s The End is news to me completely. The Daily Iowan recently caught up with Scibona, an alum of the Iowa Writers Workshop, who explained what went into making the novel:

His début novel, The End, is the product of 10 years of consistent, dedicated effort during which he committed to writing three hours a day, six days a week. I’ll save you the arithmetic: That amounts to more than 9,000 hours exerted to create a single 300-page novel….

The End describes a community of Italian immigrants living in Ohio in 1953. The novel centers on a baker named Rocco Lagrassa, but also gives voice to five other characters as a single day unfolds in their lives. The effect, as Scibona described it, is a “haunted sense of déjà vu” as the reader’s understanding of Rocco’s world becomes increasingly complex and informed….

“The characters are all made up,” Scibona said. “I’m sure I take little snippets of things people say, and sometimes I’ll borrow a nose or hair from somebody, but in terms of the souls of the characters, I try really hard to let them emerge on their own terms.”

2 thoughts on “9,000 Hours With Salvatore Scibona

  1. Scibona’s named looked familiar and I knew I read about that book somewhere. After a little digging, I found the first line of his novel in the “Page One” column of the May/June 2008 issue of Poets and Writers:

    “He was five feet one inch tall in street shoes, bearlike in his round and jowly face, hulking in his chest and shoulders, nearly just as stout around the middle, but hollow in the hips, and lacking a proper can to sit on (though he was hardly ever known to sit), and wee at the ankles, and girlish at his tiny feet, a man in the shape of a lightbulb.”

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