Derealization and Re-instantiation of the Military Experience in American Fiction about the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan


  • Andrea Pitozzi



war literature, Iraq War fiction, derealization, American literature


The article proposes a comparative reading and analysis of fictional works about the so-called War on Terror, focusing in particular on the ways in which narratives by former soldiers such as Redeployment by Phil Kley, The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers and the short stories collected in Fire and Forget edited by Roy Scraton and Matt Gallagher represent a problematic attempt to fictionalize traumatic experiences. In fact, on the one hand, following the reflections on the idea of derealization as theorized by philosophers and thinkers such as Jacques Baudrillard or Slavoj Žižek, I will argue that novels about the Iraq and Afghanistan wars show an ambiguous relationship to the reality they depict. On the other hand, these novels and stories offer a possible counter-narrative of the events and may function as a potential re-instantiation of the experience itself for the soldiers/writers, who, in recounting or "inventing" their own experience, relive and re-enact the traumatic facts, thus allowing the reader to enter these facts from a challenging position.


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