cover image Our Man in Iraq

Our Man in Iraq

Robert Perisic, trans. from the Croatian by Will Firth. Black Balloon (Consortium, dist.), $14 trade paper (216p) ISBN 978-1-936787-05-0

Toni is a journalist trying to keep himself and his relationship together in Croatia. Besides the general anxiety of having watched the “world fall apart” during the war, Toni has also recently sent his cousin, Boris, to Iraq on assignment for his newspaper. When Boris proves himself mentally unfit, Toni begins to file reports under Boris’s name—ostensibly to save them both, a dubious decision that definitely won’t hold. What’s most compelling about Perisic’s novel are the relentlessly insightful one-liners, offering poignant commentary on the unsettled day-to-day of a society trying to find its footing after devastating violence and in the throes of nascent capitalism. “We were a new society, a society with constantly changing backdrops and new illusions,” Toni relates. “The past had been easier, in a way. Now no one assumed responsibility.” More challenging is the narrative as a whole, which includes a slew of characters, an interspersed e-mail exchange with Boris, and a generally wretched few days of really bad choices on Toni’s part, which become increasingly tough to believe. Overall, though, this smart, cutting book powerfully illustrates the horrible hangover of war. (Apr.)