Iraq and Afghanistan fiction from women writers
April 24, 2013 11:43 AM   Subscribe

Crowd-sourcing a student's question: I'm looking for contemporary novels about Iraq, Afghanistan, 9/11, and the war on terror that have been authored by women.

One of the problems she's having has been that this type of material tends to be shuffled into (confessional) nonfiction. She's interested in fictional treatments of these events, including the homefront.

So far the best stuff we've come up with is Margaret Atwood's Penelopiad and Kathryn Bigelow's recent films. Thanks for the help!
posted by gerryblog to Media & Arts (15 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Deborah Coates's Wide Open is a coming-home-from-the-war story (as well as a ghost/urban fantasy story) and war trauma is a major theme.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:50 AM on April 24, 2013

In theory Yasmina Khadra's excellent book The Sirens of Baghdad is exactly what you're looking for.

In practice, Yasmina Khadra is the nom de plume of Algerian army officer Mohammed Moulessehoul. I mention it because it's a great book, exactly about the topic you're interested in. It's part of a trilogy about Islamic fundamentalism (which also includes The Swallows of Kabul). Just not actually written by a woman. In case it were to come up as a suggestion.
posted by MuffinMan at 11:52 AM on April 24, 2013

Response by poster: That's really interesting, MuffinMan. One of the things she's thinking of taking up is the problem of this silence, so the pseudonymous book could be really useful to that.
posted by gerryblog at 11:54 AM on April 24, 2013

Not fiction, but... Stacy Pearsall's books are excellent. I just finished reading Shooter and A Photojournalist's Field Guide: In the trenches with combat photographer Stacy Pearsall
posted by blaneyphoto at 12:08 PM on April 24, 2013

You Can Tell When the Men are Gone is about Army spouses living at Ft Hood during OIF and OEF.

Miss Harper Can Do It is about a liberal teacher whose Army boyfriend gets deployed, and the impact that has on her professional relationships and friendships.
posted by spunweb at 12:17 PM on April 24, 2013

Oh, and if your student is looking for some historical perspective on fiction written by women vets, I highly, highly recommend Don't Mean Nothing, which is written by a Vietnam vet who served as a nurse, and talks a lot about trauma and PTSD.
posted by spunweb at 12:21 PM on April 24, 2013

Oh, and there's also the book the Army Wives TV series is based on: Army Wives: The Unwritten Code of Military Marriages.

You might want to ask your student to refine a bit what kind of fiction she's looking for -- I mean, I could start listing some Harlequin romance series about vets/Marines w. PTSD, but they might not be the kind of fiction she's looking for. Like, is she interested in literary fiction, genre fiction (which would even include stuff like The Nymphos of Rocky Flats, which is about a vet w PTSD who got turned into a vampire while deployed who now solves mysteries), or roman a clefs?
posted by spunweb at 12:23 PM on April 24, 2013

Response by poster: I think the project is new, so anything could lead in a productive direction. Thanks for everything so far!
posted by gerryblog at 12:28 PM on April 24, 2013

I haven't read this but I listened to an interview with the author, which was interesting: Sand Queen. It's about a female soldier and an Iraqi woman.
posted by carolr at 12:31 PM on April 24, 2013

Also not fiction, but worth a read is In the Company of Soldiers by Melia Meichelbock.
One of my photographs is the cover, but that's not why I'd recommend it!
posted by blaneyphoto at 12:35 PM on April 24, 2013

Lorrie Moore's A Gate at the Stairs is about a college student whose brother enlists in the Army shortly after 9/11.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:04 PM on April 24, 2013

Deborah Ellis has written several novels on those themes.
posted by saucysault at 2:26 PM on April 24, 2013

Sons and Other Flammable Objects by Porochista Khakpour.
posted by editrixx at 6:44 PM on April 24, 2013

Not a novelist but an Iranian artist and fimmaker (you did say anything could lead in a productive direction): Shirin Neshat.
posted by glasseyes at 9:46 PM on April 24, 2013

There is very little fiction about Iraq/Afghanistan right now - the people who have the experience to write abut it need to get their memories out , and the people without the experience don't feel comfortable writing about something that is still so close yet.

Your best options are probably going to be movies and series at this point.
posted by corb at 5:57 AM on April 25, 2013

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