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War Literature Becomes Culture War Fodder

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War Literature Becomes Culture War Fodder

A literary magazine is in turmoil after publishing the personal essay of a British-Israeli writer.

Writing, even fiction writing, about war provides a clear-eyed and honest view of conflict that the best movies and television shows can’t replicate. Civilians and soldiers on all sides of conflicts have always turned to poetry and prose to express feelings that are hard to articulate any other way. 

On March 10, the literary magazine Guernica published a personal essay from British-Israeli writer Joannna Chen about the Israel-Hamas War. After a backlash to the essay that came from both inside and out, Guernica pulled the piece.

“Guernica regrets having published this piece and has retracted it. A more fulsome explanation will follow,” the literary magazine published in place of the essay. As of this writing, that more fulsome explanation has not arrived.

On this bonus episode of Angry Planet, author, journalist, and veteran Matt Galagher comes on to the show to walk us through the Guernica dustup and the importance of war writing. He talks to us about his recent trips to Ukraine, his relationship with the literary world, and his new novel: Daybreak. In Daybreak, Gallagher tells the story of American veterans who travel to Ukraine looking to fight a war that isn’t their own.

Recorded on 3/14/24

“From the Edges of a Broken World,” republished by Washington Monthly. 

“Looking Back on the Spanish Civil War” by George Orwell

Buy Daybreak here.

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