"Robert Perisic is a light bright with intelligence and twinkling with irony, flashing us the news that postwar Croatia not only endures but matters."—Jonathan Franzen
"This jivey—and I should say x-rated—story stays with us."—Alan Cheuse, "All Things Considered" NPR
"In addition to being a delightfully acerbic primer on a literarily underrepresented part of Europe, Our Man in Iraq may well prove to be one of those rare cases where something is actually gained in translation."—Toronto Star
"Given the uncountable billions of words they have dedicated to the war in Iraq, it might be easy for Americans to think of it as belonging solely to them. Even its possession by the Iraqis can feel tenuous at times. So it is a refreshing reminder of the new global village to read a novel like Robert Perisic’s Our Man in Iraq, which studies the fighting in Baghdad from the distant shores of Croatia."—Boston Globe
"Perisic’s smoothly told and unfailingly engaging story takes off swiftly and never falters. Toni’s is a tragic-comic tale enriched by layers of meditation on the broad and lasting effects of war, and the peculiarities of contemporary media. . . . How deeply satisfying it is to hear Perisic’s wry voice take a different angle, and tell a different story."—ZYZZYVA
"What’s most compelling about Perisic’s novel are the relentlessly insightful one-liners, offering poignant commentary on the unsettled day-to-day of a society trying to find its footing after devastating violence and in the throes of nascent capitalism. . . This smart, cutting book powerfully illustrates the horrible hangover of war."—Publishers Weekly
“While on the surface this is a satirical novel in the Eastern European tradition, it is—like all good books—many things. It’s an exploration of a Croatian society adrift as it figures out where it stands in the dog-eat-dog world of globalized economy, as well as a portrait of a man who suddenly finds that the imaginary buffer he felt between himself and the modern world is gone.”—Fiction Writers Review, an author interview with Steven Wingate
“A must-read... brilliantly captures modern-day Zagreb.” —The Guardian
One of The Millions most anticipated books of 2013
Saddam is a young villager from the outskirts of Basra, named after the president. What can he do? He spreads his hands wide like a scarecrow, and I spread mine too, and we chat like two scarecrows in the field, except there are no crops, no grass, and no birds for us to scare away, only sand and scrap iron, and his village, said Saddam, is in a bad place. So he stuck all his goats in a pickup truck and took to the road like Kerouac, except there’s no literature here, and no shade.
2003: As Croatia lurches from socialism into globalized capitalism, Toni, a cocky journalist in Zagreb, struggles to balance his fragile career, pushy family, and hotheaded girlfriend. But in a moment of vulnerability he makes a mistake: volunteering his unhinged Arabic-speaking cousin Boris to report on the Iraq War. Boris begins filing Gonzo missives from the conflict zone and Toni decides it is better to secretly rewrite his cousin’s increasingly incoherent ramblings than face up to the truth. But when Boris goes missing, Toni’s own sense of reality—and reliability—begins to unravel.
Our Man In Iraq, the first of Robert Perisic’s novels to be translated into English, serves as an unforgettable introduction to a vibrant voice from Croatia. With his characteristic humor and insight, Perisic gets to the heart of life made and remade by war.