Jinwar and Other Stories

A collection of short stories about identity, hope, and redemption of fierce and flawed women rebuilding their lives in the wake of war.

9781951082055 , ,

Meet The Author

"When she is not being thrown from the back of food aid trucks or dining with pistol-packing Kurdish hit men, she writes."

Alex Poppe’s characters celebrate the fragile grandeur of living an independent life in the aftermath of violence. Deeply rooted in place, these stories are about identity, hope, and redemption as fierce and flawed women rebuild their lives in the wake of war. The young women sparking through these pages are surprising, funny, and devastating: the essence of womanhood.

The title piece, “Jinwar,” is a funny, yet heartbreaking story of an American woman who survived rape in the military, was denied due process, and found herself selling lunches from a truck shaped like a hot dog. In the evenings, she turned on the news to see the Kavanaugh hearings on every channel. Her struggle to rebuild her life takes her across the globe to the Middle East, to Jinwar, an all-female village in Rojava, northeastern Syria. Here, survivors of war, patriarchy, and genocide un-make violence and search for ways to heal.

Dimensions 9 × 6 × .45 in


12 reviews for Jinwar and Other Stories

  1. brenda.pierce@cunepress.com

    Poppe’s Jinwar and Other Stories is populated by expats and ex-marines, teenage seekers, suffering mothers, and women on the margins, a fearless-yet-wounded cast of heroines who roam in order to reassemble their lives. Poppe takes the reader through the gritty paces of service jobs, hospital procedures and embed missions with stunning, gruesome detail. Visceral and propulsive, JINWAR is alive with the aftermath of war, the physical imperatives of pain and need, all while illuminating the specialized tragedy of cultures embroiled in sexist ideology and overt violence. 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

  2. brenda.pierce@cunepress.com

    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

  3. brenda.pierce@cunepress.com

    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, from the hip, savvy Xanax addicted former soldier, raped by her commanding officer, who works in a VA hospital and then a hot dog stand, to a young woman and her aunt in the land of Saddam Hussein, ISIS, the Pesh Merga, and the Kalashnikov, to a pregnant young Arab and Israeli soldiers, to the Oakland Public Library. Poppe does not waste a word. She makes you care about and root for each woman you meet. She doesn’t write to make you feel good but shows you the truth. 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, The New York Times, National Geographic, CBS News

  4. brenda.pierce@cunepress.com

    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, The Nation, Bookforum, Al-Monitor

  5. brenda.pierce@cunepress.com

    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. Whether dealing with the aftermath of violence, the trauma of dislocation, the hypocrisy of religious zealotry, or all of the above, these characters share a simple desire that is too often thwarted: autonomy over their bodies and their futures. Like the characters in her stories, Poppe’s sentences move like “a caged bird who wants her home to be the sky,” ducking and rolling to avoid the confines of the page, soaring like they never want to come down. This bracing collection reminds us that in a world ravaged by war and violence, refuge can take many forms, but is regularly found in portions as small and potent as a story.

    —Jeremy T. Wilson, Adult Teeth, Nelson Algren Award for Short Fiction Winner

  6. brenda.pierce@cunepress.com

    In this remarkable and intense book, Alex Poppe invites us into a world most of us know only from newsclips and movies. In Jinwar and Other Stories Poppe effortlessly and expertly weaves our contemporary moment and its politics with a place and culture anchored in a rich history marred by struggles brought about by patriarchy and power. These tales are told by and about women who exist in and survive the war-torn backdrop of places like Kurdistan and Mosul, and who survive (more or less) their own devastating experiences and haunting memories. 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

  7. brenda.pierce@cunepress.com

    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

  8. brenda.pierce@cunepress.com

    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. From the torture facilities of Saddam’s Iraq to a hot dog food truck during Weiner Week, Poppe’s fierce unsentimental intelligence and exacting eye for detail lift what might otherwise be utter desolation to something approaching resurrection.

    —Joel Hinman, former editor-at-large, Epiphany, Director of the New York City Program, The Writers Studio

  9. brenda.pierce@cunepress.com

    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

  10. brenda.pierce@cunepress.com

    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, Queenie Goes to Bosnia and Other Stories and the upcoming Strip

  11. brenda.pierce@cunepress.com

    Alex Poppe’s Jinwar and Other Stories is an unsparing look into the world of war in the Middle East, focusing on Syria and Kurdistan (Northern Iraq). The title novella and five accompanying stories take readers behind the scenes of the news reporting that has created the images we have about the people, places, and politics that have dominated foreign affairs for two decades.
    —Bill Wolfe, Editor, book blogger at Read Her Like an Open Book

  12. brenda.pierce@cunepress.com

    Poppe’s writing spells deep, searing emotions on each page. A keen sense of observation that is in constant combat with the normalised oblivion, this collection of short stories remains etched in memory and keeps one wondering, particularly in terms of how much has been retained after the protagonists’ disclosures in each story.
    —Ramona Wadi, Middle East Monitor

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