From the award-winning author of The Water in Between and Consumption, the definitive novel of the Afghanistan war.
News From the Red Desert begins in late 2001, when everyone believes the war is already won and the Taliban defeated, then leaps late in the severely escalated conflict–into the mess, and death, and confusion. At its heart are the men and women who have come to Afghanistan to seek purpose, and adventure, and danger, by engaging in the most bewitching and treacherous of human pursuits: making war.
It’s the story of Deirdre O’Malley, an American journalist who had been covering municipal politics when the airplanes went into the towers. Now a war correspondent, she has come to love the soldiers she covers and to grieve so hard over their wounds and their deaths she considers herself a member of the mission too. Embedded with Canadian infantry, she can’t ignore the situation on the ground. Her loyalty toward her ex-lover, the American general who has taken command of the theatre, wavers as the war wavers, and the use of torture and the slaughter of civilians is brought to light. Fuelling the tension is a melancholy American supply sergeant who accidentally releases a trove of war porn online that sparks a furious hunt for the person who leaked it. Fearing arrest at any moment, he has stayed on too long in Kandahar for reasons he doesn’t understand himself. Caught up in these currents are the Pakistanis who operate the Green Beans café on the Kandahar Airfield, led by optimist Rami Issay, who wants to lighten his customers’ hearts (and make a success of his business) by running film and chess clubs in the only zone of recreation on the base. But the war intrudes even into the lives of the well-intentioned. In a powerful climax that tests everyone’s loyalty and faith, the essential chaos of violence asserts itself. Love and desire endure, but no-one escapes unscathed.
“With News from the Red Desert, Kevin Patterson has crafted one of the finest war novels this country has ever seen…At its core, News from the Red Desert is a novel of unintended consequences, of the impossibility of true understanding, not just between cultures but between individuals. With the distance of fiction, Patterson is able to explore the philosophies of war, the shifting parameters of engagement, but the fundamental truths of the novel lie in the deeply personal disappointments and frustrations, individual tragedies and injustices. News from the Red Desert is a powerful
voice in an area where there are no answers, easy or otherwise. ‘Write whichever truth you need to,’ one of the characters says, late in the book. Thankfully, Patterson took that admonition to heart.” – Rave review in The Globe and Mail
“News from the Red Desert is a masterful and essential meditation on war, terror and the media’s complicity in feeding both.” – Quill & Quire
“[a]sobering, austerely beautiful novel…” Macleans
“Stunning and deeply disquieting, News from the Red Desert powerfully captures the bizarre collisions and endless complexities of a hyper-modern global war. Authentic, suspenseful and gritty.”—Award-winning playwright Hannah Moscovitch, whose works include This is War and Infinity
“Like Denis Johnson in Tree of Smoke, Kevin Patterson looks at war from every unsettling perspective.News From the Red Desert is a brilliant evocation of a complex war.”—Don Gillmor, author of Long Change and Mount Pleasant
Publisher: Random House Canada, Summer 2016