A PEN/HEMINGWAY AWARD FINALIST
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: THE NEW YORKER • ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY • VULTURE • VOGUE • LIT HUB
“A miracle of literary serendipity, a triumph.” —The Washington Post
A young medic returns from deployment in Iraq to two things: the woman he loves, and the opioid crisis sweeping across the Midwest. Soon deep in the thrall of heroin addiction, he arrives at what seems like the only logical solution: robbing banks. Written by a singularly talented, wildly imaginative debut novelist, Cherry is a bracingly funny and unexpectedly tender work of fiction straight from the dark heart of America.
“The first great novel of the opioid epidemic.” —Vulture
“A buzzsaw of a novel. . . . Bracingly original.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Cherry is a profane, raw, and harrowingly timely account of the effects of war and the perils of addiction.” —Entertainment Weekly
“A raw coming-of-age story in reverse. . . . Cherry touches on some of the darkest chapters of recent American history.” —The New York Times
“Aptly compared to Jesus’ Son and Reservoir Dogs, [Cherry] is a devastating example of art imitating life.” —Esquire
|Publisher:||Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Nico Walker is originally from Cleveland. Cherry is his debut novel.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The author has a unique voice that makes writing a great novel look easy. It’s a tragic story about addiction that is somehow infused with wry humor and pure humanity.
What a waste of time reading this book was. As a current member of the armed forces I find the piece on Iraq to be disgraceful and shameful to those who serve. I wish I could scrape every part of this book from my brain and set it on fire.
2003, Cleveland. He has just arrived at uni when he meets Emily and falls for her immediately. They love each other passionately, just as they love Ecstasy. When Emily moves back home to Elba and splits up, he loses control and is expelled from college soon after. The army promises an interesting future – or better: a future at all. As a medic he is briefly trained before they send him to Iraq. A year in the Middle East, a year in the war. What he sees is unimaginable and to avoid the pictures in his head and to deal with the everyday loss of comrades, he needs more and more pills. When he returns, he cannot find a way back in life. With Emily, he’s got an on-and-off relationship which is mainly marked by their common use of heroin. A normal life seems possible, but the constant need of money for more drugs and the fact of passing out frequently hinders them from actually having it. “Cherry” is the story of an average young man whose life spirals down into the abyss. It’s not the one big event that throws him off course, it’s a bit here and there, a relationship that breaks up, not getting enough credits at college, simply losing the aim in life. Of course, the experiences made in the war are a major event and it is hard to imagine that anybody can live through this without serious psychological disturbances or PTSD. The novel brings out the worst that drugs can do to somebody and it underlines how long this can go on without people around noticing anything, how long they can keep up appearances before wreaking havoc. Yet, it is not only the topic, the narrator’s life that is shown bluntly by Nico Walker. What he does masterly, too, is to adapt the language to the situation: The car bomb did what car bombs do and four were dead in the market. It would have been more but the sheep took most of the blast. So you had flesh and blood and wool on the pavement. You had bloodstains on the pavement, little lakes of blood. There is no reason to embellish anything, it’s just the blunt reality that Walker describes in the most brutal and direct way. Most of the soldiers were “Cherries” which gives the novel its title: soldiers who have never been in a fight and whose behaviour is unpredictable and therefore a danger to the whole platoon. They were ill prepared in every possible way, but the worst is that they were ill prepared to return to a life in the civilian society. Walker doesn’t beat about the bush, his novel accuses their treatment, as well as the way drug addicts are taken care of, or rather: not taken care of. He shows a reality that nobody wants to see but which exists among us. The style of writing might not be for everybody, but it is perfect for this novel.
This was a good read. The druggy stuff went a little long, and I would have liked to have more chapters that go into being arrested and prison, and maybe a little bit of redemption, but maybe that’s not real life. For all I know the author is still a POS, who knows whatever as Nico would say!