Fiction - Literary
375 Pages
Reviewed on 03/31/2023
Buy on Amazon

Author Biography

Vince Sgambati’s debut novel, Most Precious Blood, received an IPPY Award, a KIRKUS star review, was a Foreword Indies Finalist in literary fiction, a Central New York Book Awards Finalist, and was listed as recommended readng by the Working Class Studies Association. His short story collection, Undertow of Memory, includes stories awarded by the Katherine Ann Porter Prize for Fiction and the Saints and Sinners Fiction Contest. His fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in the anthology Queer and Catholic, North American Review, Nimrod International Journal, Voices In Italian Americana, Saints and Sinners: New Fiction From The Festival, Off the Rocks, The Journal of GLBT Family Studies, and Lavender Magazine where he wrote a Queer parenting column. Sanctuaries is his second novel.

Vince and his dogs, Luca and Stella, live in New York City and in the Finger Lakes region of Central New York where Vince cares for the eight-acre arboretum of conifers and deciduous trees he and his life-partner, Jack (now passed), planted years ago.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

Sanctuaries by Vince Sgambati is a deeply moving work of coming-of-age literary fiction that revolves around a youth named Gianni Paganucci, and the people and events that would shape an entire life. The setting spans several years but takes place in New York during influential moments in American history. The assassination of Kennedy, a day and age where a woman with an afro would be asked if she was a clown, and when a young Gianni is only really able to admit that he thinks he's gay to a seasoned drag queen at a bar that has to pay bribes to stay open. Gianni's friend Raffaella bears the numbered tattoo of a Holocaust survivor and relates stories of being found in hiding, witnessing a murder, and of inhumanity. Gianni, Raffaella, and Gabriel, perhaps three of the least likely individuals to find sanctuary with each other, do so against a backdrop of dramatic change.

“And you will move on. I promise you that. This will just be a little rest... A sanctuary.” Vince Sgambati is masterful in the weaving of his novel Sanctuaries, with every character having the feel of absolute authenticity and narrative that is almost as cinematic as anything that can be seen at The Orchard. Gianni's upbringing at a Catholic school, learning that he is adopted, and the exploration of his sexuality and first relationship with Owen are compelling on their own. He experiences heartbreaking loss, in particular that of his cousins. He does not fit into the conventions of the time and his evolution is remarkable. Sgambati shows restraint in the drip-drop pace that reveals Raffaella's history, which is a testament to his skill as a writer. Her relationship with Hanns, who is well acquainted with the Hollywood blacklist, rounds out their dynamic. This is an incredible book and I would give it a whole bucket of stars if I could.