News From the Red Desert

Shortlisted
City of Victoria Butler Book Prize
2017
About this Work 

News From the Red Desert begins in late 2001, when everyone believes the war is already won and the Taliban defeated, then leaps late in the severely escalated conflict--into the mess, and death, and confusion. At its heart are the men and women who have come to Afghanistan to seek purpose, and adventure, and danger, by engaging in the most bewitching and treacherous of human pursuits: making war. 
     It's the story of Deirdre O'Malley, an American journalist who had been covering municipal politics when the airplanes went into the towers. Now a war correspondent, she has come to love the soldiers she covers and to grieve so hard over their wounds and their deaths she considers herself a member of the mission too. Embedded with Canadian infantry, she can't ignore the situation on the ground. Her loyalty toward her ex-lover, the American general who has taken command of the theatre, wavers as the war wavers, and the use of torture and the slaughter of civilians is brought to light. Fuelling the tension is a melancholy, American supply sergeant who accidentally releases a trove of war porn online that sparks a furious hunt for the person who leaked it. Fearing arrest at any moment, he has stayed on too long in Kandahar for reasons he doesn't understand himself. Caught up in these currents are the Pakistanis who operate the Green Beans café on the Kandahar Airfield, led by optimist Rami Issay, who wants to lighten his customers' hearts (and make a success of his business) by running film and chess clubs in the only zone of recreation on the base. But the war intrudes even into the lives of the well intentioned. In a powerful climax that tests everyone's loyalty and faith, the essential chaos of violence asserts itself. Love and desire endure, but no one escapes unscathed.

Random House Canada
Fiction
Jurors' Citation 

After 16 years, the war in Afghanistan has become a backdrop to our lives. Patterson’s book shook us out of our inevitable complacency, clearly demonstrating the “collateral damage” of war – no one comes out unscathed. He never takes the easy road, giving the reader an incredibly nuanced glimpse into contemporary warfare.

Kevin Patterson
About 

Kevin Patterson grew up in Manitoba, and put himself through medical school by joining the Canadian army. Now a specialist in internal medicine, he practices in the Arctic and on the coast of British Columbia. His first book, The Water In Between, was a New York Times Notable Book. Country of Cold, his debut short fiction collection, won the Rogers Writers' Trust Fiction Prize in 2003, as well as the inaugural City of Victoria Butler Book Prize. He lives on Saltspring Island, Canada.