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Maximum Shelf: FIVES AND TWENTY FIVES

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“I didn’t set out to write a book with a message or a moral. This really was just a story I had to tell. But along the way, I stumbled across the idea of people finding each other in their shared frailty. We’re at our most human when we can recognize our dread, and our weakness, in others.” — Michael Pitre

Perfect for readers who loved Karl Marlantes’s MATTERHORN and Kevin Powers’s THE YELLOW BIRDS, Iraq war veteran Michael Pitre’s debut novel, FIVES AND TWENTY FIVES, follows three men from a road repair platoon tasked with the dangerous job of filling potholes along the highways and byways of Iraq.

Buzzing since spring, FIVES AND TWENTY FIVES was picked for the “Summer/Fall Indies Introduce Promotion” at BEA, was named a Library Journal Best Summer Debut, as well as a B&N Discover Great New Writers pick, and was yesterday’s featured Maximum Shelf Awareness title.

Fives and twenty-fives mark the measure of a marine’s life in the road repair platoon. When a convoy halts to investigate a possible roadside bomb, stay in the vehicle and scan five meters in every direction. A bomb inside five meters cuts through the armor, killing everyone in the truck. Once clear, get out and sweep twenty-five meters. A bomb inside twenty-five meters kills the dismounted scouts investigating the road ahead.

Lieutenant Donavan leads the platoon, painfully aware of his shortcomings and isolated by his rank. Doc Pleasant, the medic, joined for opportunity, but finds his pride undone as he watches friends die. And there’s Kateb, known to the Americans as Dodge, an Iraqi interpreter whose love of American culture—from hip-hop to the dog-eared copy of Huck Finn he carries—is matched only by his disdain for what Americans are doing to his country.

Told in alternating first-person voices, the story switches between the present, when each man has either returned home or tried to create a new one, and their far more vivid past, in the Iraqi war zone, following these men as they struggle to find a place in a world that no longer knows them.

“Readers will be floored by Pitre’s spare literary style, the authenticity of each of his characters’ three different voices, and those mesmerizing characters themselves, who are not perfect but demand our compassion for their very reality. The story of FIVES AND TWENTY FIVES is sometimes difficult to abide, but is also necessary; we are lucky to have such a fine voice as Pitre’s to tell it.”
Shelf Awareness

See the full summary, review and interview with Michael Pitre on Shelf-Awareness.com.

Praise for FIVES AND TWENTY FIVES:

“Two-tour Marine veteran Pitre’s affecting debut delivers an unflinching portrait of the Iraq war, both through flashbacks to the conflict and stories about its principal characters once they have returned home. But it’s the nuanced take on Dodge’s divided loyalties—to his family, country, and postwar identity as an activist in Tunisia pressing for President Ben Ali’s resignation—that imbues the novel with depth and integrity.” Publishers Weekly, starred review

“The corrosive psychological effects—and the dark humor—of modern conflict are hauntingly captured in Iraq War veteran Pitre’s powerfully understated debut. A war novel with a voice all its own, this will stand as one of the definitive renderings of the Iraq experience.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Pitre’s suspenseful debut, influenced by his combat experience in the Iraq War, follows a Marine Corps crew searching for hidden bombs on the treacherous highways encircling Baghdad. A thrilling, definining novel of the Iraq War.”
— Booklist

FIVES AND TWENTY FIVES will be available from Bloomsbury Press on August 26.

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