... as much a meditation on time and memory as it is a book about war ... These themes sound weighty, but the novel carries them lightly. Abdoh skillfully captures combat’s intrinsic absurdity ... For many Americans, the conflicts in Syria and Iraq have become abstractions, separated from our lives by geographic as well as psychic boundaries. Abdoh collapses these boundaries, presenting a disjointed reality in which war and everyday life are inextricably entwined ... The novel arrives at...wisdom by shining a brilliant, feverish light on the nature of not only modern war but all war, and even of life itself.
Abdoh...explores the lives behind the war-torn headlines in a way that captures the full humanity of the participants. Channeling a bit of Tim O’Brien and a good deal of Joseph Heller, he has written the best novel to date on the Middle East’s ceaseless wars.
Descriptions of the show’s story line, which provide incisive and blistering commentaries on the conflict, also reveal essential truths about the nature of narrative, cultural politics, and history. The theme of memory is also threaded through the story as Saleh uncovers a copy of Proust buried during a firefight. As Saleh contemplates the human desire for meaning and how this informs a willingness for martyrdom, he is baffled by the irony of humankind’s propensity for repeating the same mistakes throughout history. A devastatingly profound catch-22 of modern conflict.
Abdoh...delivers a superb pressure cooker of a novel ... In chapters that shuffle Saleh around Syria and Iraq, Abdoh vibrantly illustrates the futilities and dangers of proxy conflict ... Abdoh brilliantly fuses the confusions of combat and modern life to produce an unforgettable novel. This is one of the best works of literature on the war against ISIS to date.