Sunday, July 26, 2009

What is Helen Benedict reading?

The current featured contributor to Writers Read: Helen Benedict, author most recently of The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq and The Edge of Eden, a forthcoming novel.

One book from her entry:
I'jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody by Sinan Antoon, an Iraqi novelist and film maker who now lives in the U.S., was published by City Lights Books in 2007. All things Iraqi fascinate me now, as I have just finished a nonfiction book about the Iraq War and am now writing a novel set in Iraq, too. Iraqi literature has a totally different tone and approach to Western literature, and often seems both experimental and ancient at the same time. This book plays with language and explores politics, but indirectly, as it is told through the voice of a man imprisoned under Saddam for writing an objectionable poem. It feels like reading a fever dream, one that is both meandering and bizarre yet strikingly clear at the same time. At times I was reminded of the formality and floridness of ancient Turkish poetry; at other times of Kafka. But either way, the novel gives you a clear sense of what it is like to seethe and squirm under...[read on]
Helen Benedict is the author of five novels and five books of nonfiction. Her new nonfiction book, The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq came out from Beacon Press in April 2009. Benedict's play based on the book, The Lonely Soldier Monologues, was performed in New York City at The Theater for the New City from March 5–22, and at La MaMa on March 17. It will be performed again this coming fall, dates to be arranged.

One of her articles on the subject, "The Private War of Women Soldiers" (Salon, March 2007) was awarded The James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism in 2008. She has since written other articles on women soldiers that have appeared in the New York Times, The Nation, Ms., In These Times, Huffington Post, and elsewhere. Benedict's newest novel, The Edge of Eden, set in Seychelles in 1960, is to be published by Soho Press in November, 2009.

Learn more about Helen Benedict and her work at her official website.

Writers Read: Helen Benedict.

--Marshal Zeringue