When You Come Home explores uncharted territory in American fiction, the tragic legacy of the first Gulf War and Gulf War Illness, the disabling disease that followed almost a third of the troops home. The novel demonstrates that war devastates not only losers but winners, resounding with meaning as we consider not only our past but our present and future.
For Purchase at Curbstone
Booklist review of When You Come Home
The administrations and institutions that conceive of and execute armed conflicts are notoriously reluctant to acknowledge, much less take responsibility for, any debilitating effects such wars may have on the people charged with carrying them out. In 1991, troops sent to Iraq for the first Gulf War returned home with a litany of physical, neurological, and psychological symptoms that collectively became known as Gulf War syndrome, a subject seldom dealt with in works of fiction. Eisenberg bravely sheds light on the resultant devastation suffered by one small group of friends and their families: marine reservist Tony and his childhood sweetheart Lily; their best friends, career soldier Homer and his wife, Nancy; and their parents, whose generation fought in Vietnam. In a story that is, sadly, as pertinent as it is ageless, Eisenberg poignantly demonstrates that casualties of war occur both on and off the battlefield and ironically illustrates the vivid consequences when those in charge of veterans’ postwar care fail to meaningfully “support our troops.”
2008 Grub Street Prize for Fiction Finalist