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Sparta: Book summary and reviews of Sparta by Roxana Robinson

Sparta by Roxana Robinson X
Sparta by Roxana Robinson
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  • Published Jun 2013
    400 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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Book Summary

Going from peace to war can make a young man into a warrior. Going from war to peace can destroy him.

Conrad Farrell has no family military heritage, but as a classics major at Williams College, he has encountered the powerful appeal of the Marine Corps ethic. "Semper Fidelis" comes straight from the ancient world, from Sparta, where every citizen doubled as a full-time soldier. When Conrad graduates, he joins the Marines to continue a long tradition of honor, courage, and commitment.

As Roxana Robinson's new novel, Sparta, begins, Conrad has just returned home to Katonah, New York, after four years in Iraq, and he's beginning to learn that something has changed in his landscape. Something has gone wrong, though things should be fine: he hasn't been shot or wounded; he's never had psychological troubles. But as he attempts to reconnect with his family and his girlfriend and to find his footing in the civilian world, he learns how hard it is to return to the people and places he used to love. His life becomes increasingly difficult to negotiate: he can't imagine his future, can't recover his past, and can't bring himself to occupy his present. As weeks turn into months, Conrad feels himself trapped in a life that's constrictive and incomprehensible, and he fears that his growing rage will have irreparable consequences.

Suspenseful, compassionate, and perceptive, Sparta captures the nuances of the unique estrangement that modern soldiers face as they attempt to rejoin the society they've fought for. Billy Collins writes that Roxana Robinson is "a master at ... the work of excavating the truths about ourselves"; The Washington Post's Jonathan Yardley calls her "one of our best writers." In Sparta, with the powerful insight and acuity that marked her earlier books (Cost, Sweetwater, and A Perfect Stranger, among others), Robinson delivers her best book yet.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"By letting the reader live in Conrad's skin, Robinson creates a moving chronicle of how we fail our returning troops." - Publishers Weekly

"A well-intentioned but flawed exploration of an underdiscussed topic." - Kirkus

"Roxana Robinson's Sparta delicately explores the fissures between the military experience and civilian life with this portrait of a liberal northeastern family and what happens when their son, a young Marine lieutenant, returns home from Iraq irrevocably changed. This book is not simply about war, but about the horror and enforced isolation of trauma, the inevitable merging of the personal and the political, and the possibilities and trials found within the bonds of familial and romantic love." - Phil Klay, author of Redeployment

"Roxana Robinson's Sparta is a feat of the imagination. Vividly and with unflinching wisdom, Robinson has given voice, substance, and profound reality to her protagonist, Conrad Farrell of the Marine Corps - and in so doing, to thousands of veterans like him." —Claire Messud, author of The Woman Upstairs and The Emperor's Children

This information about Sparta was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. Publication information is for the USA, and (unless stated otherwise) represents the first print edition. The reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that they do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, send us a message with the mainstream reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Roxana Robinson Author Biography

Photo by Beowulf Sheehan

Roxana Robinson is the award-winning author of six novels and three short story collections. Her fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Atlantic, Harper's, and other publications. She lives in New York City and Connecticut, spends as much time as she can in Maine, and teaches in the MFA program at Hunter College.

Link to Roxana Robinson's Website

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