Pivot to Asia: Iraq War Literature and Asian/American Women

TitlePivot to Asia: Iraq War Literature and Asian/American Women
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2018
AuthorsMcKay, Daniel
JournalUniversity of Toronto Quarterly
Pagination39 - 63

From Frederic Henry and Catherine Barkley in Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms (1929) to Lloyd Gruver and Hana-ogi in James A. Michener’s Sayonara (1953), the trope of romantic relationships between American servicemen and the foreign women whom they encounter overseas has recurred throughout twentieth-century American literature. In this article, I examine the ideological assumptions rooted in these depictions, paying particular attention to the challenges that the Iraq War, an apparently “sexless” conflict, has posed to contemporary fiction writers. Using a close reading of Phil Klay’s short story “In Vietnam they had Whores” (2014) and Atticus Lish’s novel Preparation for the Next Life (2015), I argue that these two authors have “pivoted” away from Iraq towards Asia in ways that reveal an increased willingness on the part of war writers to critique or dispense with old narrative stereotypes. (ProjectMUSE)

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