In the lead up to the announcement of the winner of our first Glass Bell award, we're going to be talking a bit about why we enjoyed each book on the short list. Today we'll be talking about Anatomy of a Soldier:
I'm not normally one for war fiction, but Anatomy of a Soldier grabbed a hold of me in a way few novels have recently. The story is one that is, sadly, all too relevant these days - that of a soldier, grievously wounded in combat, and his subsequent efforts at recovery. The setting is never explicitly stated, but the use of IEDs and descriptions of the environment make it clear that it takes place in the Middle East. Harry Parker combines his own experiences with truly imaginative storytelling to create a novel that speaks to the strength and bravery of those who serve overseas.
While the story is enjoyable in its own right, what truly makes Anatomy of a Solider stand out is the way in which the story is told. Tom's ordeal is told out of order, and from the perspective of 45 objects involved with his preparation for combat, the explosion, and aftermath. Parker manages to create unique voices for his large cast of narrators - a military cot speaks heavily in military jargon and abbreviations, using serial numbers instead of names, while a lady's handbag has a much gentler, easier to read voice. As the action bounces back and forth between the time before and after the explosion, Parker's diverse pool of narrators allows for an exploration not only of Tom's experience, but also that of his family and his bomber.
Anatomy of a Soldier is an absolutely fantastic debut novel, and I can't wait to see what Parker writes next.