Friday, January 4, 2013

The Struggle Trilogy

It's been a few months (or half a year) since The Struggle Trilogy was released. I have received a few comments on the piece and I'd like to set the record straight. Or perhaps not that, since who can ever claim to have set any record straight, but to at least voice my theories behind this novel.

Now, I'm wary about giving too much of "I was thinking this when I wrote this passage" comments because such statements aren't all that insightful (in fact, they end up tainting the waters with the author's hopes for immortality or perhaps even his attempts at backpedaling... it's hard to truly get into the state of mind of a book as it's written), or useful to the reader. Instead, I will try to shine light to the story itself. This is a risky claim, and perhaps not possible as I'm the one who's closest to the characters than anyone else.

Alert *Spoilers below* for The Struggle Trilogy. (So read it first! Links are to the left of this text)

First, I will address the reason for this book. Many people, editors and readers alike, have asked why I, an Iraqi veteran... on the US side of things, would decide to write a story about the war from the Iraqi point of view.

Well that's a tough question to answer. First: I have written (and will probably continue to write) about the war from the American perspective several times. Check out Tree of Freedom, if you haven't already. Also there are a myriad of stories out there, by me. "To Love a Rat" is another such tale. (I will also make another note here that stories with Iraq as their subject matter have a certain cathartic, as well as pain-inducing effect on me, the writer. Nevertheless I always aim for the fiction to entertain first, if not leave the reader with something to think about, since the latter is the most important of all the factors).

For me it was a natural progression to write about the war from the enemy's point of view as how can a proper book about the war not have that. Now, to be certain most people won't. But then again, they most likely didn't have the experience that I did. Also, it pained me significantly to come up with a character who was on the other side and believable. But I did it. And I did it because I think without that point of view America's (and dare I say the world's? Though writers like Blasim are doing a damn good job of getting some fine lit out there) gulf war literature is weaker without it. In fact, I'd say that any war literature is weaker without the other side of the coin. (I won't deny that the personal component of this was pretty strong. And I still stand by it).

Now when I wrote about the American characters, I wrote their pieces short. As a result some people have complained that this was unfair, as they didn't like the American characters since there wasn't as much time to get used to them. But this is only way I can see (unless it was about those American characters) to tell a story about the people living in a city. In another way it also provides the inherent weaknesses of an invading Army spending more time in any given place. The soldiers simply don't spend as much time there as the locals. That provides an inherent disadvantage (assuming total war isn't in play). That, in the end, was my intention of showing the Americans through a smaller prism. It wouldn't have made sense to give them equal time.

The ending is something that readers seem to be taking one way or another. Some have claimed they don't like it since it's not morally fitting with what their world view is, while others have enjoyed the cogitation (dissonance?) it provides. I'll leave that unexplained as it's better for the reader that way. Any of you have things you'd like to discuss one-on-one, I'd be more than happy to. Drop me an email.


So there's my long-winded explanation. I hope it clears up a few things for those who've read the book.

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