Joyce Carol Oates, author of novels such as Black Water, What I Lived For and Blonde, all nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, released Carthage in 2014. The novel tells of a missing girl and the community’s search for her. The possibility of a murder is awoken when the car of an Iraq War veteran with close ties to the family is discovered to have her hair and blood in it. A wounded corporal, a complex family pattern and the atrocities of war are explored in Carthage.
I’ll be honest – I haven’t read much of it, though the book has been in my possession for weeks now. From what I have read, however, I have encountered the Mayfield family whose youngest daughter is missing and been introduced to the young veteran Brett Kincaid in glimpses. The book is set in 2005, just a few years following the American invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, a time when young men were passionate and determined to participate in the war against terror. Of course, not everything is as easy as it seems. While many went home with scars on their bodies, the scars in their minds were deeper. We’ve all heard of soldiers coming home traumatized, many with PTSD. There are also high chances for military veterans to commit suicide after coming home; studies have shown that veteran suicides are twice as high as civilian suicides. I do find this topic interesting and I hope Carthage explores it in an interesting yet respectful way.