Sunday, March 31, 2013

Fiction: Our Man in Iraq by Robert Perisic

Publisher: Black Balloon
Translator: Will Firth
Date: 2007 (April 2, 2013)
Format: ARC
Source: GoodReads First Look
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)
Pages: 202
Reading time: three days

From GoodReads: Our Man in Iraq tells the story of a local journalist who sends a distant relative to report on the war in Iraq while he stays at home to sort out his love life and his professional career – all to varying degrees of success. However, as time goes on, things begin to unravel, and he ends up having to fake his missing cousin’s reports while struggling to hold on to his actress girlfriend. The novel is a take on the Iraqi conflict from the other side of Europe, where politics and nepotism collide and the confusing after-effects of the recent Yugoslav wars mix with the joys and trials of modern life. Perisic manages to incorporate some political views and opinions through this novel, but in a deceptively simple way: through the writings of an ‘everyman.'

My review: Our Man in Iraq wasn't quite what I had expected, in that I anticipated more focus on the war in Iraq and less emphasis on the daily life of Toni, the narrator, who remains in Croatia. I didn't really connect with or get into the story until around 3/4 of the way through the novel. It seemed like Toni's situation, as well as Perisic's humor, would be more understandable to those who have first-hand experience with recent Croatian history and contemporary life. The more absurd Toni's troubles got, however, the more I began to see how this could be both a poignant and a funny read. I ended up greatly enjoying the last 50 pages, so perhaps one of these days I should go back to the beginning of the book and read it in that light to see if it's improved.

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