Iraq War Novels and Iraq Conquest Novels – Where They Are and Are Not

“Where’s the first wave of Iraq War fiction?” – asked at Paper Cuts: A Blog About Books, at the New York Times

There are number of good comments there on a variety of matters, though some that are wanting. In answer to that central question, the first waves of Iraq War fiction are in the movies, on TV, in plays and novels and short stories… While there is not nearly as much as one might hope to see, it hasn’t been too difficult to compile a list of dozens of such works, plus works on closely connected US militancy in the “Middle East,” Afghanistan in particular:

Recently, an Iraqi instructor/student at a university in Baghdad sought out my thoughts on a particular proposed abstract and a proposed list of novels for a dissertation on Iraq war novels. This person under extraordinarily challenging conditions mentioned no difficulty about coming up with the list. Why such novels are not being discussed and critiqued more widely in US universities and schools and elsewhere (the earliest novels having been around since 2003, the year of the invasion) is by now a better question – in particular “anti Iraq war novels,” not least since probably a more clear description of the “Iraq War” is the Iraq Conquest – The US Conquest of Iraq, etc, (which, yes, ought to have made already for a large number of investigative crime novels, in a civilized culture at least.) The proposed dissertation was on “anti Iraq war novels” – the first on the topic? And coming from devastated Iraq – not the US? In smashed Iraq, they’re attempting to write dissertations on novels that we in the rich countries are perplexedly awaiting, are perhaps incapable of seeing. Or are willfully and carelessly ignoring, or disavowing. Where are all the Iraq war novel or fiction dissertations?

More on the immediate topic:


See also:

Cover for 'Fiction Gutted: The Establishment and the Novel'

by  Tony Christini


2 thoughts on “Iraq War Novels and Iraq Conquest Novels – Where They Are and Are Not”

  1. When a writer sits down to begin a novel, especially one that is based on a political conundrum, one that until recently would have placed the author in the center of a storm of vitriol should the author take an anti-war position. Now, the writers that you cite above were in some ways brave, but most anti-war novels always seem to come about after the fact. Dennis Johnson waits until 2007 and his book is not really anti-war as much as an attempt to clear the smoke from an America that was long ago fractured by the event. Neither Johnson nor the Iraq War has done much to help a novelist steer a great war novel for us. This is the question: how brave must an author be to write a great anti-war novel? How afraid will the author be of the reviewers who will try to find every tiny bit of error in the characters, the events, the point of view, the landscape, the place, even though it will be clear that the novel is a novel and is therefore fiction. Someone out there, some brave writer, thrust us into the darkness so that we may emerge from the smoke and the fog of Iraq.

    go to to read about a brave novel set in New Orleans

  2. The traditional large publishers (and therefore agents) have decided “Iraq” doesn’t sell. However, there are some veterans who have out out their impressions of the war anyway for future consumption when that assumption is no longer true. My novel “One Weekend A Month” is the thinly fictionalized story of the mishandled attempt to rebuild Iraq on the heels of the invasion. I was there as a civil affairs officer. Whether it is anti-war or not I will leave up to the reader to decide. It’s sequel, “No Time for Ribbons” will be out in September 2008 and explores the homecoming our troops experience in attempting to assimilate back into a country that barely recognizes it is at war. Both can be accessed through or

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s