The Iraq War in Fiction


“Fiction is, of course, serving rearguard here; the last decade has seen Iraq War films, poetry collections, documentaries, and non-fiction books too numerous to list, but part of what’s appealing about examining American Iraq War fiction now is that there isn’t that much yet. A common perspective unites this early wave of American Iraq War storytellers. “The war tried to kill us in the spring,” Kevin Powers writes in the elegant, elegiac opening of The Yellow Birds.Powers’ “us” could just as well include Ben Fountain’s Billy Lynn, David Abrams’ Gooding and Shrinkle, Lea Carpenter’s SEAL operators, and most of the protagonists in Fire and Forget, a collection of “short stories from the long war.” That “us” is the wife of Siobhan Fallon’s Meg in You Know When the Men Are Gone and the son of Lea Carpenter’s Sara. Because the texts that comprise the current corps of American fictions about Iraq are not just war stories, they are soldier tales.”


Ryan Bubalo examines the way the Iraq war has and is being portrayed in recent fiction over at the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Ashley Perez lives, writes, and causes trouble in Los Angeles. She has a strong affinity for tattoos, otters, cat mystery books, and actual cats, but has mixed feelings about pants. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She runs the literary site Arts Collide and does work of all varieties for Women Who Submit, Entropy, Jaded Ibis Press, and Why There Are Words. You can find her on Twitter at @ArtsCollide. More from this author →