link to email
2008 National Book Award Finalist,

Share |

Salvatore Scibona
The End
Graywolf Press

Photo © Carlos Ferguson.

Against a backdrop of immigration, racial hostility, broken loyalties and modest dreams, this bold-hearted and masterful first novel centers on a single day—August 15, 1953—in an Italian neighborhood in an Ohio community. Salvatore Scibona intertwines searing portraits of six key characters whose tragic stories are leavened by the beauty of the author's craftsmanship, his structural dexterity and his daring wit.


Salvatore Scibona’s fiction has been published in the Threepenny Review, Best New American Voices 2004, and The Pushcart Book of Short Stories: The Best Stories from a Quarter-Century of the Pushcart Prize. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, he is the writing coordinator at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

ABOUT THE BOOK (from the publisher)

A small, incongruous man receives an excruciating piece of news. His son has died in a P.O.W. camp in Korea. It is August 15, 1953, the day of a tumultuous street carnival in Elephant Park, an Italian immigrant enclave in Ohio. The man is Rocco LaGrassa, and his many years of dogged labor, paternal devotion, and steadfast Christian faith are about to come to a crashing end. He is the first of many exquisitely drawn characters we meet in the carnival crowd, each of whom will come to their own unique conclusion on this day.

The End follows them across the seven preceding decades—an elderly abortionist, an enigmatic drapery seamstress, a teenage boy, a jeweler—and dramatically into the heart of a crime that will twist all of their lives. Against a background of immigration, broken family loyalties and racial hostility, we at last return to August 15, l953, and see everything Rocco saw—and vastly more—through the eyes of the people in the crowd.


Date: Friday, June 5, 2009
Time: 8pm
Event: Reading at Gist Street
Venue: Gist Street Reading Series
James Simon's Sculpture Studio
305 Gist Street (in Uptown)
Pittsburgh, PA


The End's Website


From The End by Salvatore Scibona. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.

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. He was faintly green-skinned, psoriatic about the elbows and the backs of knees, his shaven cheeks untouched by scars of any sort, faithful to a fault to his daily labors, grudgeless against the wicked world, thankful for it, even; a baker of breads with and without seeds, modest cakes, seasonal frosted treats; supplier to all neighborhoods and occasional passers-through; a reader of the p.m. papers, as all of his vocation are, born on the feast of Saint Lucy, 1895; a prideful Ohioan; a sucker of caramel candies when cigarettes he forbade himself from eight o’clock to two; possessor of a broad and seamless brow and a head of sleek black undulant hair, the eyes goonish, unnaturally pale and blue, set deep in the skull in swollen rain-clouded pouches, the eyes of one poisoned with lead, who had not in all his days addressed a piece of speech to more than two persons at once; a looker-right-through-you if he pleased, as old cats look, accustomed to suffering the company of others but always in need of privacy; the baker of Elephant Park; an unambitious businessman; a soul liberated from worry by luck and self-conquest; a weakhearted sparer of the rod with his boys; a measured drinker of spirits who prayed daily for the salvation of his sons and wife; a smoker nevertheless immune to colds and grippes; an ignorer of the weather; a lover of streaks, content and merciful; an unremarkable Christian.

From The End by Salvatore Scibona. Copyright 2008. All rights reserved.


The End is currently available at your local library or for sale through most major retailers, including:

Copyright © 2007 National Book Foundation. Privacy Policy