Elliot Ackerman’s Green On Blue is a stirring debut novel about a young Afghan orphan and the harrowing, intractable nature of war. Having served five tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, Ackerman often writes in Gaziantep, Turkey, a small town near Syria.
“We call the attic room the Crow’s Nest. It’s my home away from home when I stay with some journalist friends at their place in Gaziantep, a Turkish town thirty minutes drive from the Syrian border. There’s no heat and no air conditioning. In the summer a steady breeze flows through the small panel windows. In the winter I sleep with a space heater next to my bed. Down the street, a muezzin begins the call to prayer just after five every morning. I begin each day buried beneath the fleece blankets strewn across the bed, covering my head with my pillow, promising myself that the next day I’ll sleep a few floors lower, where it’s quieter, but I never do. I bought the foldout table for ten lira (about four dollars) from a junk store a few blocks away which also sells busts and framed prints of Ataturk. On the right is a copy of Denis Johnson’s ‘Tree of Smoke’, beneath it a volume of poetry by the Palestinian writer Mahmoud Darwish, and a Moleskin pad with some notes. To the left is a manuscript I’m revising, reading it aloud to myself and going line by line with a pencil. And of course my laptop. On the hook is my towel and exercise shorts. I love this room.”