RaveThe Washington Post...compelling ... In American Cipher, Farwell and Ames tell Bergdahl’s story alongside a history of the Afghan war. A deft move, as it is impossible to understand Bergdahl’s actions outside a deeper contextualization of that conflict, with its many contradictions ... If Bergdahl suffered the delusion of believing he could become a savior by solving a crisis of his own making, the case is artfully made in American Cipher that America itself is a schizotypal, that we became lost in our own fantasies for Afghanistan, in which we could deliver the Afghan people from a crisis we created ... the specific facts of Bergdahl’s case are elevated to the allegorical, and this is where Farwell and Ames’s storytelling really shines ... Farwell and Ames convincingly show that so many of the reasons we’ve been fighting in Afghanistan for 18 years—bureaucratic inertia, partisan dysfunction, domestic indifference—are the same reasons that, even when Bergdahl’s captors eagerly hoped to broker his release, it took so long to recover him.
Khaled Khalifa Trans. by Leri Price
RaveThe New York Times Book Review\"... masterly ... That’s the power of mass violence: its ability to transform specific loss into general loss, numbing our collective consciousness. This is why novelists like Khalifa are so critical in these times. They give us a story, and stories are specific ... Many fine American writers have claimed the mantle of Faulkner’s successor through their chronicling of life in the South. But Faulkner wasn’t writing only about the South. He was writing about civil war, too. With Death Is Hard Work, Khaled Khalifa has, intentionally or not, also laid claim to that title.\
RaveThe Wall Street JournalWar narratives usually fall somewhere on a spectrum between elegiac and ironic, and “Cherry” certainly skews ironic. Mr. Walker achieves this effect in the way he mixes registers, switching quickly between the slangy or ultra-simple and the literary or vaguely bureaucratic ... the humor in the book is a sort of anti-humor; it is deadpan in the extreme ... One of the chief pleasures of Mr. Walker’s writing is how it shies away from pretension, both stylistically and thematically, yielding memorable descriptions ... Mr. Walker’s crisp observations draw us in, so that we happily follow the narrator through the war, through his seedy life in sex and drugs, until he’s eventually robbing banks. There are no tricks in the writing, no striving for meaning on every page when there is not much more to relate than the drug-hunger that consumes an addict’s life. The book is wonderfully direct ... a bracingly original novel.
C J Chivers
RaveThe Washington PostI was hesitant to pick up The Fighters ... What a mistake that would have been. This book is remarkable ... The Fighters belongs alongside those volumes, but it achieves its own broad scope by relying on the more intimate canvas of individual experience ... Chivers doesn’t shy away from the moral complexity of volunteerism. What does it say about us that we chose to fight? Chivers gives the thrill of combat and its horror equal time ... a memorial in pages.