Iraq in Fiction: 5 War Novels for this Generation

Carpenter's first novel, new for June (Knopf), chronicles the heartache of the mother of a Navy SEAL who has gone missing in Iraq. Hers is a palpable, liminal grief, heavy with anxiety and memories. Carpenter masterfully points to not only of the hardship of the soldiers abroad, but also of the mothers, waiting, without much reassurance, for words of hope.

'Eleven Days' by Lea Carpenter

Carpenter's first novel, new for June (Knopf), chronicles the heartache of the mother of a Navy SEAL who has gone missing in Iraq. Hers is a palpable, liminal grief, heavy with anxiety and memories. Carpenter masterfully points to not only of the hardship of the soldiers abroad, but also of the mothers, waiting, without much reassurance, for words of hope.

'The Yellow Birds' by Kevin Powers

Powers, an Iraq veteran, wrote The Yellow Birds years after returning home. The author's debut is story of two soldiers and their struggle to survive together through bloody battles, physical exhaustion, and the mental suffering that results. Beautifully written and powerful, the book's universal resonance speaks to why it's been acclaimed again and again.

'Fobbit' by David Abrams

Abrams' take on the war is unique and careful. Fobbit is a satirical depiction of a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Baghdad —think M*A*S*H in Iraq. The humor is dark, yet obvious; the men and women who "work the desks" at the base are as ridiculous and silly as men and women who work the desks at home. Their concerns (sex in Porta Potties) and their comforts (seafood buffets, video games) are even more trivial and absurd in the setting of Baghdad, where they are seem untouched by war but, in reality, spend their lives planning it.

'Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk' by Ben Fountain

This satirical novel set on the homefront is an ironic look at a football team in Texas, which allows for a humorous reminder of all the Bushy heroism and hypocrisy you thought you had forgotten.

'The Long Walk' by Brian Castner

Castner, another Iraq vet, pens his story of the war he fought abroad and the battles he faced upon returning home: Raw and real panic, confusion, and haunting memories. Castner describes his struggles with searing detail and intense imagery. It's a sobering look at the conflict.