The Last War
By Ana Menendez
(Harper, Hardcover, 9780061724763, 240pp.)
Publication Date: June 1, 2009
List Price: $24.99*
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A breathtaking novel of love, war, and betrayal
Flash, a photojournalist, chases conflicts around the globe with her war correspondent husband, Brando. Now Brando is in Iraq, awaiting her arrival. Yet instead of racing to join him, Flash idles in Istanbul, vaguely aware that her marriage is faltering.
Losing herself in a fog of memory and recrimination, Flash ponders her life with the ambitious and handsome husband she calls "Wonderboy." Her malaise is compounded by the arrival of a mysterious letter informing her that Brando has been unfaithful to her in Baghdad. Devastated and unwilling to confront him over the phone, Flash spirals deeper into regret, anger, and indecision. Were she and Brando ever happy?
Wandering the strange, shimmering streets of Istanbul, Flash is followed by a woman in a black abaya—Alexandra, a fierce and captivating colleague who shared dangerous days with the couple in Afghanistan. Their meeting rekindles long-buried secrets and forces Flash to face hard truths about her marriage, her husband, and herself. The Last War is a haunting and intense novel that reveals the personal costs of combat journalism while probing crucial questions of cruelty and violence, love and identity.
Ana MenÉndez is a 2008 Fulbright scholar and the Pushcart Prize-winning author of two works of fiction, In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd, which was a New York Times Notable Book, and Loving Che. She has worked as a columnist for the Miami Herald and has also contributed to The New Republic, the New York Times, and Gourmet, as well as several anthologies. She lives in Miami, Florida.
Praise for IN CUBA I WAS A GERMAN SHEPHERD: “Menendez taps into [a] wellspring of broken promises and unfulfilled desires and gives us a ... peek at ... the Cuban-American experience.”
Praise for LOVING CHE: “[Loving Che] puts [Menendez] in the company of other Latino writers such as Junot Diaz and Sandra Cisneros.”
“Ana Menendez’s The Last War offers us a moving and probing portrait of lovers and media warriors in this poignant and touching novel of crumbling friendships and marriages--betrayals, large and small--in a dicey and dangerous world.”
-Edwidge Danticat, author of Breath, Eyes, Memory and Brother, I'm Dying
“An exquisitely crafted work . . . A novel, lyrically written, that feels strikingly real and heartfelt, a narrative by a woman destroying herself with imagination and doubt.”
“A tart fable about history and identity that is equal parts detective story, travelogue and fever dream. . . . Inventive and hypnotic. . . . [An] evanescent pas de deux.”
-Los Angeles Times Book Review on Loving Che
“Poetic, atmospheric, and introspective . . . A quietly piercing cultural and philosophical think-piece, comparable in its low-key, allusive moodiness to a European art-house movie.”
-Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Powerful. . . . A bright debut that points to even brighter accomplishments to come.”
-Michiko Kakutani, New York Times on In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd
“[Loving Che] puts [Menendez] in the company of other Latino writers such as Junot Diaz and Sandra Cisneros.”
-Vanity Fair on Loving Che
“Menendez is a skilled novelist - even admirers of her acclaimed short story collection, In Cuba I was a German Shepherd or her earlier novel, Loving Che, will be impressed with the deepening maturity of her writing. . . . [A] fully convincing psychological portrait.”
-South Florida Sun Sentinel
Praise for IN CUBA I WAS A GERMAN SHEPHERD: “A raucous, heartfelt debut...Deft, talented and hilarious....”
Praise for LOVING CHE: “A tart fable about history and identity that is equal parts detective story, travelogue and fever dream...Inventive and hypnotic...[An] evanescent pas de deux.”
-Los Angeles Times Book Review
“[A] potent literary novel . . . A deft portrait of an estranged couple whose pain is veiled by the fog of war.”
“Crisscrossed with exotic shadows, memories of romance and displacement, Ana Menéndez’s new novel, The Last War, is a seductive meditation.”
-O, The Oprah Magazine
Praise for IN CUBA I WAS A GERMAN SHEPHERD: “Powerful... A bright debut that points to even brighter accomplishments to come.”
-Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
“[An] impressionistic and introspective tale . . . Menéndez offers astute and perceptive commentary on both the hidden and obvious effects of war and its aftermath.”
“[The Last War] speaks to Ana Menéndez’s maturity--as a woman and a writer. . . . A character study of those who have found their purpose in bearing witness to bloodshed.”
-New York Times Book Review
“Menendez taps into [a] wellspring of broken promises and unfulfilled desires and gives us a . . . peek at . . . the Cuban-American experience.”
-Miami Herald on In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd
“Menendez shows with unblinking honesty in her self-assured second novel The Last War how in conflict and its aftermath journalists can find or lose themselves. . . . Mendendez’s deep wisdom about people and their relationships is the payoff that always makes this insightful author worth reading.”
-St. Louis Post-Dispatch
“Menéndez’s descriptions of the city are haunting and shadowy. . . . A precise and subtle book, full of finely realized flashbacks, the narrator’s memories of a marriage and detailed descriptions of Istanbul and of the experience of adjusting to another home, another culture.”