Friday, April 1, 2016

Recommended Reading: Nontraditional War Stories

I have the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion at the 2016 Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference on the topic of Nontraditional War Stories. In the panel Qais Akbar Omar, Olivia Kate Cerrone, Mieke Eerkens, Mariette Katherine Kalinowski and I will explore military and war narratives that break from what has become the formula for mainstream war stories: those focused on western male combat soldiers. Our thought is that offering different perspectives—from men and women living in war zones, female veterans, aid workers, journalists, family members and others—will give voice to minority and disenfranchised (and often stereotyped) populations and expand public understanding of what it means to be affected by war.

Since we cannot hope to capture all perspectives in our panel of five, we've compiled a list of recommended reading, below. This list is not all-inclusive, but we hope to update it and add titles as we learn of them. At this point (with a couple exceptions), the books included only come from the last 10-15 years and focus on contemporary conflicts in the greater Middle East. Narratives about military spouses are not represented—that is an important and thriving sub-genre that would swell this list far beyond its current size. 

If you have a recommended read or resource on this topic, please share in the comments.

Abulhawa, Susan:  The Blue Between Sky and Water; Mornings in Jenin (fiction, Palestine, local voices)

Addario, Lynsey: It’s What I Do (memoir, war photographer)

Akbar Omar, Qais:  A Fort of Nine Towers (memoir, Afghanistan, local voices)

Alexander, Jessica:  Chasing Chaos: My Decade In and Out of Humanitarian Aid (memoir)

Alsanea, Rajaa:  Girls of Riyadh (reportage/biography, Saudi Arabia, local voices)

Ansary, Nina:  Jewels of Allah: The Untold Story of Women in Iran (reportage, local voices)

Antoon, Sinan:  The Corpse Washer (fiction, Iraq, local voices)

Aslam, Nadeem:  The Wasted Vigil (fiction, Afghanistan, local voices)

Bahari, Maziar:  Rosewater (memoir, Iran)

Baker, Kim:  The Taliban Shuffle (memoir, Afghanistan/Pakistan, journalist) *Basis for the movie 
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Barghouti, Mourid:  I Saw Ramallah (memoir, Palestine, local voices)

Bell, Elana:  Eyes, Stones (poetry, Israel/Palistine)

Benedict, Helen:  The Lonely Soldier (reportage, female veterans)

Blair, Jane:  Hesitation Kills (memoir, Iraq, female veteran)

Blasim, Hassan:  The Corpse Exhibition and Other Stories of Iraq (fiction, local voices)

Bowden, Lisa and Shannon Cain (editors):  Powder: Writing by Women in the Ranks from Vietnam to Iraq

Chayes, Sarah:  The Punishment of Virtue (reportage/memoir, Afghanistan, aid worker)

Clark, Peter (editor):  Emerging Arab Voices (fiction/anthology, local voices)

Copaken Kogan, Deborah:  Shutterbabe (memoir, Afghanistan/Zimbabwe/Romania/Russia/Haiti, photojournalist)

Crow, Tracey:  Eyes Right (memoir, female veteran)

Darwish, Mahmoud:  If I Were Another; Why Did You Leave the Horse Alone? (poetry, Palistine, local voices)

Douaihy, Jabbour:  Autumn Equinox; June Rain (fiction, Lebanon, local voices)

Duy, Nguyen:  Distant Road (poetry, Vietnam, local voices)

Ebadi, Shirin:  Iran Awakening; Until We Are Free (memoir, Iran, local voices)

Fathi, Nazila:  The Lonely War (memoir/reportage, Iran, local voices)

Gidali, Orit:  Twenty Girls to Envy Me: (poetry, Israel, local voices) *to be released July 2016

Gopal, Anand:  No Good Men Among the Living (reportage, Afghanistan, local voices)

Hamid, Mohsin:  The Reluctant Fundamentalist (fiction, Pakistan, local voices)

Halloran, Colin D:  Icarian flux (poetry, homefront, PTSD explored through persona and metaphor)
*Halloran’s first collection, Shortly Thereafter, addresses war more explicitly; several poems feature nontraditional perspectives (Full disclosure: Colin is my husband)

Hoffman, Cara:  Be Safe, I Love You (fiction, Iraq, female veteran)

Hosseini, Khaled:  The Kite Runner; A Thousand Splendid Suns; And the Mountains Echoed (fiction, Afghanistan, local voices)

Housden, Roger:  Saved by Beauty (memoir/travel writing, Iran)

Johnson, Shoshanna and ML Doyle:  I'm Still Standing: From Captive U.S. Soldier to Free Citizen (memoir, Iraq, female veteran)

Jubber, Nicholas:  Drinking Arak Off An Ayatollah’s Beard (memoir/reportage, Iran/Afghanistan, local voices, travel writing)

Kachachi, Inaam:  American Granddaughter (fiction, Iraq, local voices)

Karimi-Hakkak, Ahmad and Nahid Mozaffari (editors): Strange Times, My Dear: The PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature (anthology, Iran, local voices)

Khadra, Yasmina:  The Swallows of Kabul (fiction, Afghanistan, local voices)

King Feuerman, Ruchama:  In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist (fiction, Israel, local voices)

MacFarquhar, Neil:  The Media Relations Department of Hizbollah Wishes You a Happy Birthday (memoir/reportage)

Mahony, Phillip (editor):  From Both Sides Now: The Poetry of the Vietnam War and its Aftermath (Vietnam, local voices)

Majd, Hooman:  The Ministry of Guidance Invites You to Not Stay (memoir/travel writing, Iran)

Mikhail, Dunya:  Fifteen Iraqi Poets (anthology, local voices)

Moaveni, Azadeh:  Lipstick Jihad (memoir, Iran, local voices)

Navai, Ramita:  City of Lies (biography/reportage, Iran, local voices)

Papernick, John:  The Ascent of Eli Israel and Other Stories (fiction, Israel, local voices)

Pari and Ahmad Aria: Washing the Dust From Our Hearts: Poetry & Prose from Writers of the Afghan Women’s Writing Project

Percy, Jennifer:  Demon Camp (reportage/memoir, Afghanistan/homefront, PTSD/inherited trauma

*As a journalist, Percy has also written extensively about conflict in many regions, from many nontraditional perspectives

Radnoti, Miklos:  Clouded Sky (poetry, Hungary/WWII concentration camp, local voices)

Richey, Frances:  The Warrior: A Mother’s Story of a Son at War (poetry, homefront)

Roy-Bhattacharya, Joydeep:  The Watch (fiction, Afghanistan, local voices)

Sabar, Ariel:  My Father’s Paradise (memoir, Iraq, local voices)

Sasson, Jean:  Mayada, Daughter of Iraq (biography, Iraq, local voices); American Chick in Saudi Arabia (memoir)

Schultz, Katey:  Flashes of War (short fiction)

Seierstad, Asne:  The Bookseller of Kabul (reportage/biography, Afghanistan, local voices)

Seraji, Mahbod:  Rooftops of Tehran (fiction, Iran, local voices)

Shavit, Ari:  My Promised Land (memoir/reportage, Israel/Palestine, local voices)

Shehadeh, Raja:  Strangers in the House: Coming of Age in Occupied Palestine (memoir, Palestine, local voices)

Strick van Linschoten, Alex and Felix Kuehn (editors):  Poetry of the Taliban (Afghanistan, local voices)

Sultan, Masuda:  My War at Home (memoir, Afghanistan, local voices)

Tolan, Sandy:  The Lemon Tree (biography/memoir, Israel/Palistine, local voices)

Trussoni, Danielle:  Falling Through the Earth (memoir, Vietnam, PTSD/inherited trauma)

Tzemach Lemmon, Gayle:  Ashley’s War (reportage, Afghanistan, female veterans); The Dressmaker of Khair Khana (local voices)

Various:  My Sister, Guard Your Veil; My Brother, Guard Your Eyes: Uncensored Iranian Voices

Wahab, Saima:  In My Father’s Country (memoir, Afghanistan, local voices)

Williams, Kayla: Love My Rifle More than You (memoir, Iraq, female veteran); Plenty of Time When We Get Home (memoir, Iraq/homefront, PTSD, caretaer)

Wolpe, Sholeh (translator/editor):  Sin: Selected Poems of Forugh Farrokhzad; The Forbidden: Poems from Iran and its Exiles

Other Resources:

For a comprehensive list of writing by female veterans throughout history, Navy Veteran/writer/editor Jerri Bell is compiling an extensive Bibliography on her website

For links to writing by and about military spouses (and other military and book-related themes) check out the Military Spouse Book Review

The Time Now blog, curated by retired Army colonel and literature professor Peter Molin, offers reviews and commentary on "The Iraq and Afghanistan Wars in Art, Film, and Literature"