The Times of London
is sharp; a well-observed and worthwhile contribution to the growing body of fiction generated by the conflicts of the past decade."
The Washington Post
: "A clever study in anxiety and an unsettling expose of how the military tells its truths."
The New York Times Book Review
: "I applaud David Abrams for sticking to his vision and writing the satire he wanted to write instead of adding to the crowded shelf of war memoirs. In Fobbit
, he has written a very funny book, as funny, disturbing, heartbreaking and ridiculous as war itself."
: "A satire of comfortably numb life during wartime."
: "A harrowing satire of the Iraq War and an instant classic."
Late Night Library:
"A frozen-in-amber representation of the psychology of the men and women who were following orders to toss water charges into bomb-laden cars while Americans at home were following the Commander-in-Chief’s orders to go shopping."
"I could not put it down."
: "Those ready to laugh through the heartbreak of war will like this one very much."
(review of audiobook): "Don’t listen to this novel while driving. Abrams’ laugh-out-loud satire of the war in Iraq will have you putting your life and license in jeopardy."
: "This work will almost certainly infuriate many who pick it up."
The Boston Globe
: "A delicious, unsettling read."
Los Angeles Times
: "an impressive debut"
: "The author describes Fobbit
as an 'anti-stupidity' novel, not an anti-war novel, and with 20 years’ service, he has the evidence and flair to write the former."
: "...like the best works of fiction, it tells the truth."
: "...reinforced my confidence the West will triumph over radical Islam not just because of our technology, or our resources, or our freedom, but because of our superior sense of humor."
The Great Falls Tribune
: "The insanity is linguistic, and Abrams’s dark humor about lying through language would appeal to George Orwell."
The Missoula Independent
: "fast-paced, realistically profane, seamless, believable and queasily funny."
A Just Recompense blog
: "David Abrams served in Iraq and all I did was read a book in the comfort of my living room. There’s something wrong with that."
Minneapolis Star Tribune
: "....makes its mark on Iraq war literature."
The New Dork Review of Books
: "....alternatingly hilarious and heart-attack serious."
: "a scathing, deeply felt diatribe against military disasters large and small"
Dallas Morning News
: "...contains one of the most vivid 9/11 scenes American fiction has offered."
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
: "I can't think of a better new book than Fobbit
to get your perspective on war skewed in the right direction."
: "Abrams remixes the adage 'history is written by the victors' to 'history is spun by the quickest press release.'"
Timestage Embassy blog
: "Rarely has a book ever made me laugh so loudly, and never has a book made me laugh so bitterly."
The VVA Veteran's Books in Brief on the Web page
: "...a well-written, beautifully designed narrative."
The World Is My Book Club blog
: "...shows us another side of war: the absurdity, the relentless bureaucracy, the lose-lose situation."
The Magic Book Werm blog
: "...really puts into perspective some of the aspects of the war that we never really get to hear about at home."
Lynne's Book Notes blog
: "Abrams writes with straight-to-the-heart accuracy."
Diane Prokop's blog
: "I can assure you that beneath the laughter lies a darker reality. Comedy is comfortably in bed with tragedy in this one."
: "As the war in Iraq passes from news into history, all the dirty little secrets come out, told by those who were there. Abrams's tale is powerful stuff."
: "Sardonic and poignant. Funny and bitter. Ribald and profane. Confirmation for the anti-war crowd and bile for Bush supporters."
: "Think M*A*S*H
: "This ain’t Hogan’s Heroes
Fobbit: a novel
is a darkly ironic novel of the Iraq war that marks the debut of a new voice in literary fiction. Based on the author’s own experiences serving in Iraq and the diary he kept there, Fobbit
takes us into the chaotic world of Baghdad’s Forward Operating Base Triumph. The Forward Operating Base, or FOB, is like the back-office of the battlefield—where the grunts eat and sleep between missions, and where a lot of Army employees have what looks suspiciously like an office job. The FOB contains all the comforts of home, including Starbucks and Burger King, but there’s also the unfortunate possibility that a mortar might hit you while you’re drinking your Frappucino. A lot of what goes on at the FOB doesn’t exactly fit the image of war that the army and the government feed us: male and female soldiers are trying to find an empty Porta-Potty in which to get acquainted, grunts are playing Xbox and watching NASCAR between missions, and most of the senior staff are more concerned about getting to the chow hall in time for the Friday night all-you-can-eat seafood special than worrying about little things like military strategy. The book follows dyed-in-the-wool Fobbit Staff Sergeant Chance Gooding, who works for the army public affairs office and spends his days tapping out press releases to try to turn the latest roadside bombing or army blunder into something that the American public can read about while eating their breakfast cereal. Like Catch-22
fuses pathos with dark humor to create a brilliantly witty and profound work about the ugly and banal truth of life in the modern-day war zone.
Click here for an excerpt
"Fobbit, an Iraq-war comedy, is that rarest of good things: the book you least expect, and most want. It is everything that terrible conflict was not: beautifully planned and perfectly executed; funny and smart and lyrical; a triumph. David Abrams has taken up Joe Heller's mantle--or not mantle; more like his Groucho nose and his whoopee cushion--and so his debut marks the arrival of a massive talent."
--Darin Strauss, author of Half a Life
and Chang and Eng
"Stories in and around war rely on irony to convey this unnatural human behavior; but in this appalling comedy the indifference of participants not actually being shot at or blown up--their headlong pursuit of folly--raises the immorality of war to white heat. This delightful, readable, believable and useful book made me furious!"
--Thomas McGuane, author of Driving on the Rim
"Fobbit is fast, razor sharp, and seven kinds of hilarious. Thank you, Mr. Abrams, for the much needed salve--it feels good to finally laugh about Iraq. Fobbit deserves a place alongside Slaughterhouse Five and Catch-22 as one of our great comic novels about the absurdity of war."
--Jonathan Evison, author of West of Here
"Wavy Gravy once said, 'Without a sense of humor, it just isn’t funny.' Fobbit is hilarious, but the subject matter is deadly serious. The protagonist is a 'fobbit,' the term used by the grunts for the non-combatants ensconced inside well-protected forward operating bases, oases of junk food, air-conditioning, and all the comforts of home. But throughout the book, the fobbits are shadowed by the presence of the infantry who live in horrible conditions and are the smelly, dirty, haggard reminders that there is a real war going on just outside the gates. This is a remarkable book because it was written by a man who served as a member of an army public relations team in Iraq, i.e. a fobbit himself. It is the rare writer--indeed, the rare person--who can step outside of himself and see with cold clarity the humor and pathos of his situation and then bring the reader to the same understanding. David Abrams is such a writer."
--Karl Marlantes, author of Matterhorn
"With a gimlet eye and humor as dry as a desert sandstorm, Abrams captures the absurdist angle of the Iraq war. A direct counterpoint to hero-worshipping 'shoot 'em up' combat narratives, Fobbit proves that wit is as lethal a weapon as any Army-issue M16 or .50 cal."
---Lily Burana, author of I Love a Man in Uniform: A Memoir of Love, War, and Other Battles
"The first major work of fiction about America's war for Iraq."
--Aaron Gwyn, author of The World Beneath
"A darkly funny chronicle of the Iraq War, Fobbit explores the modern military machine with searing resolve. Contemporary warfare is often as absurd as it is ugly, a truth that gives Fobbit and its unforgettable cast of characters both depth and nuance. This is a book that speaks to the power of fiction--a war story too profane and profound for the newspapers and the nightly news. Want to think, laugh and cry, all at the same time? Read this novel."
--Matt Gallagher, author of Kaboom
"Fobbit should be required reading for America. Hilarious and tragic, it’s as if Louis C.K. and Lewis Black provided commentary to The Hurt Locker. I read the novel mesmerized, and found myself thinking 'Please tell me none of this is autobiographical' on just about every page. There will be innumerable comparisons to Catch-22, but Fobbit, believe me, stands on its own. Thank you, David Abrams, for your vision, heart, and daring."
--George Singleton, author of Why Dogs Chase Cars
and Work Shirts for Madmen
"Fobbit is a searing view of life on a Forward Operating Base in Iraq and the constant contradictions faced by U.S. soldiers who are told to kick down a door one minute and win ‘hearts and minds’ the next. Funny and evocative, with great glimpses of soldier-speak and deployment day-to-day life, each laugh in the novel is accompanied with a troubling insight into the different types of battles that our soldiers encounter on a non-traditional battlefield.”
--Siobhan Fallon, author of You Know When the Men Are Gone
"Hopefully, there will be a group of readers who are offended, and who complain about Abrams' obvious lack of patriotism, his attack on our beloved soldiers, and his mockery of our national war effort--if that happens, then he has succeeded. A book like this proves its value in the irrational criticism that it generates. Anyone who gets angry and says Abrams got it wrong either wasn't there, didn't serve, doesn't know--or maybe Abrams' characters hit way too close to home. Like the line from Mel Brooks' 'The Producers' goes, 'It was shocking, outrageous, insulting...and I loved every minute of it!'"
--Nathan S. Webster, Can't Give This War Away blog
* * Fobbit
is available on audiobook by Tantor Audio
(narrated by David Drummond)
* * Fobbit
will be released in the UK by Harvill Secker
Baghdad, February 27, 2005