Brian Van Reet

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Brian Van Reet joins us this week. We’ll be talking about SPOILS,  his stunning new novel released April 18th by Hachette’s Lee Boudreaux Books.

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Brian Van Reet was born in Houston. Following the September 11 attacks, he left the University of Virginia, where he was an Echols Scholar, and enlisted in the U.S. Army as a tank crewman. He served in Iraq under stop-loss orders, achieved the rank of sergeant, and was awarded a Bronze Star for valor.

After an honorable discharge Brian studied at the University of Missouri and later the University of Texas. His fiction has been recognized with awards and fellowships from the Michener Center for Writers, Gulf Coast, and the Iowa Review, with stories and essays also appearing in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and in literary magazines and anthologies, including Fire and Forget. He has twice won the Texas Institute of Letters short story award.

Brian’s first novel is SPOILS (Lee Boudreaux Books, April 18, 2017). It will be published in five languages. He lives in Austin with his wife.

Praise for SPOILS:

A strong debut….embeds the reader with the unwashed troops in a cramped Humvee, in a dark cell where only screams penetrate, and in the mind of a Muslim fighter….A fine piece of writing that should stand in the front ranks of recent war novels. —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

A superb debut. —The Guardian

Moving immediately into the pantheon of first-rate war novels, Spoils reads like a nightmare within a tragedy, a story that is both touchingly classic and brutally modern. This is a definitive record of the war that marked the end of the American Empire. It will shortly be seen as one of the best novels of our time in the Middle East. —Philipp Meyer

Van Reet’s unsettling tale is an authentic portrayal of combat with its chaos, fear, and the finality of death. It is also a sobering commentary on war’s brutality and the burning intensity of Iraq’s jihadist insurgency. —Publisher’s Weekly

I read this with awe. Spoils is a harrowing and incredibly powerful debut which shows war in all its complexity and viciousness and which attempts to humanize it through extraordinary and conflicted characters. The female soldier Cassandra Wigheard is superbly drawn and her relationship with the young jihadist will stay with me for a long time. —Kate Atkinson

In one of 2017’s most anticipated debut novels, a veteran of the Iraq War presents its atrocities in unsparing passages of unmitigated brutality. Though at times difficult to get through, they illustrate the book’s profound power to unsettle the reader into a deeper understanding of the chaotic cruelty of combat… Van Reet’s grim but skillfully-told story is an urgent reflection on one of the most consequential conflicts in modern history. —Harper’s Bazaar

Spoils resonates…When three soldiers are captured and become unintended spoils of war, the reader is compelled to follow the engrossing but harrowing plot and its sociological undercurrents. “When dealing with other people’s tragedies,” the prophetic Cassandra warns, “there’s a risk of taking on more grief than is appropriate.” In this case, a reader can’t help it. —Military Times

About SPOILS (Lee Boudreaux Books, April 18, 2017)

The Kite Runner meets The Things They Carried in this explosive debut which maps the blurred lines between good and bad, soldier and civilian, victor and vanquished.

It is April 2003. American forces have taken Baghdad and are now charged with winning hearts and minds. But this vital tipping point is barely recognized for what it is, as a series of miscalculations and blunders fuels an already-simmering insurgency intent on making Iraq the next graveyard of empires.

In dazzling and propulsive prose, Brian Van Reet explores the lives on both sides of the battle lines: Cassandra, a nineteen-year-old gunner on an American Humvee who is captured during a deadly firefight and awakens in a prison cell; Abu Al-Hool, a lifelong mujahedeen beset by a simmering crisis of conscience as he struggles against enemies from without and within, including the new wave of far more radicalized jihadists; and Specialist Sleed, a tank crewman who goes along with a “victimless” crime, the consequences of which are more awful than any he could have imagined.

Depicting a war spinning rapidly out of control, destined to become a modern classic, Spoils is an unsparing and morally complex novel that chronicles the achingly human cost of combat.  —Hachette Books

For more information, please visit the author’s website.