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Jinwar and Other Stories

“With two old rifles, I trained ten Kurdish, Arabic, Armenian, and Yazidi women how to duck and roll, and point and shoot, and hit a target with varying degrees of accuracy, which would prove later to be useful. When they asked me how I had learned to shoot like that, I explained that it was the kind of skill best learned on the job. One of the Yazidi women, a girl by American standards, who was well-liked and smiley, who had built her own house and tended her own garden, and whose handicrafts were quite popular at My Sister’s Shop, cried so hard when she pulled the trigger that I felt fraudulent. During my time there, this girl would talk about the attack on Sinjar, and talk around her capture by ISIS, and talk in pieces of her sale at the sex slave market, and talk at length about her everyday life under the Caliphate, but would not talk at all about the child she had left behind in Raqqa. That was the kind of story you heard from someone else.” –Alex Poppe (from “Jinwar” in Jinwar and Other Stories)

PRAISE FOR Jinwar and Other Stories

“In irreverent and cutting prose, Poppe taps into the absurd hypocrisy of unfit men in power, and questions, ultimately, what it means to care and be cared for in a world that aims to rip you apart. Poppe’s voice is an antidote. This is one hyper-astute, deadly funny, entirely consequential collection.”Kate Wisel, Driving in Cars with Homeless Men, 2019 Winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize

“Alex Poppe delivers an outstanding collection of stories delving into the lives of deeply powerful, loveable, courageous young women and how their lives are shaped in the aftermath of war. Captivating, poetic, weighty – Poppe’s writing demands to be read.” Hannah Sward, Strip

“Alex Poppe is a writer with laser eyes and a scalpel for a pen, a savvy, sometimes cynical sometimes screaming inside worldly artist who tells, with her heart, the stories of multiple modern women…She is edgy, off-kilter, smart, lovingly vulnerable, and searing in her descriptions. When you feel only despair, she ends with the power of love. Every man who thinks he knows the world should read this book, as well as every woman.”Jere Van Dyk, The Trade: My Journey into the Labyrinth of Political Kidnapping, In Afghanistan: An American Odyssey; The New York Times, National Geographic, CBS News

“Alex Poppe’s new collection Jinwar and Other Stories is a knife in the groin, a secret stash of Xanax, a Kalashnikov in every car seat. But it’s also a butterscotch sunset, a harpist at a bus stop, a chocolate truffle pressed into a survivor’s palm. In locales as divergent as Kurdistan and Oakland, hot dog trucks and VA hospitals, Poppe delivers lucid and convincing characters, women and girls who are constantly defined by the way others see them yet refuse to settle within those limitations.”Jeremy T. Wilson, Adult Teeth, Nelson Algren Award for Short Fiction Winner

“In this remarkable and intense book, Alex Poppe invites us into a world most of us know only from newsclips and movies. The voices of the women in these stories ring out as they navigate their own battered understanding of this complex and broken world, and their uneasy but essential place in it.”Patricia Ann McNair, The Temple of Air, Chicago Writers Association’s Book of the Year, Devil’s Kitchen Readers Award,  And These Are The Good Times, finalist Montaigne Medal, Responsible Adults

“Care about these characters and you might help build a warmer world, a less predatory world.  The stories seem to unfold effortlessly, but at a deeper level, Alex takes truths that everybody knows and makes them into truths no one can ignore.”Kathy Kelly, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, founder of Voices for Creative Nonviolence

“These stories bring the world alive in rich detail.  They resonate forward.  Each new event seems to turn a corner that leads to an unexpected laugh. or jarring irony, or sad surprise; we don’t see it coming and then, there it is – inevitable, true. Poppe’s prose is wickedly sly; sturdy, starchy, shocking.  Her sharp insights about people are placed within cultural juxtapositions that are often hilarious. The stories are ripe with surprises as weird as life.”Ellen Kaplan, The Violet Hours, Images of Mental Illness on Stage

“Poppe’s finely-observed, well-turned stories of soldiers, expatriates, and immigrants cast light on an aspect of the American experience that oft eludes literary notice: namely, the toll and echo of its recent imperial misadventures.”Marc Edward Hoffman, writer and critic, The NationBookforum, Al-Monitor

“The paradox at the heart of the Jinwar and Other Stories is that while Alex Poppe brings us into worlds of utter desolation, a VA hospital, the bleak regions of northern Iraq, the occupied territories and the shattered lives of woman struggling in the wake of sexual and emotional violence, she does so with so  much  lavish and lyrical attention to the sensual world, that the physical world may be all that is left of solace.”–Joel Hinman, former editor-at-large, Epiphany, Director of the New York City Program, The Writers Studio

Jinwar and Other Stories is a risky, heart-wrenching, mordantly funny collection. Alex Poppe unpacks what Americans don’t want to see about the wars ‘over there.’ This is a daring, provocative book that deserves our attention.”Stuart Ross, Jenny in Corona