Author(s): Brian van Reet
A Guardian Book of the YearWinner of The Writers' League of Texas Fiction Award 2017'Spoils is a harrowing and incredibly powerful debut. I read this with awe.' Kate AtkinsonIt is the spring of 2003 and coalition forces are advancing on Iraq. Images of a giant statue of Saddam Hussein crashing to the ground in Baghdad are being beamed to news channels around the world. Nineteen-year-old Specialist Cassandra Wigheard, on her first deployment since joining the US army two years earlier, is primed for war.For Abu al-Hool, a jihadist since the days of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, war is wearing thin. Two decades of fighting - and the new wave of super-radicalised fighters joining the ranks in the wake of the September 11 attacks - have left him questioning his commitment to the struggle.When Cassandra is taken prisoner by al-Hool?s mujahideen brotherhood, both fighters will find their loyalties tested to the very limits.This fast-paced, hard-hitting account of eight weeks in the lives of a soldier and her captor forces us to reconsider the simplistic narratives of war spun by those in power. With its privileged insight into the reality of armed combat, Spoilsshines a light on the uncertainty, fear and idealism that characterised the early days of one of the most important conflicts of our time.