Award-winning author Roxana Robinson’s new novel Sparta concerns an American soldier returning home from Iraq. That’s the simplest way of describing it, but no soldier returns from combat the person who left–and Robinson paints a devastating portrait of the otherwise incomprehensible adjustment required to transition from the battlefield to civilian life. So strange and true is her story that Robinson’s powerful, perfectly titled novel might just as well have worn a title borrowed from Kafka–The Metamorphosis of the soldier is what she shows us. Indeed, another title that would have suited this piercing story Robinson already used for her last book: Cost. The cost of war is tallied here on every page. And yet this is just one book telling a story of one man’s fiery re-entry, as he breaks into a new atmosphere as surely as a returning space capsule. Sparta captures in some deeply honest way the story of many (Robinson spent years researching war and interviewing veterans), but more than 1.5 million American soldiers served in Iraq and each has his or her own story, too. Which is where the Veteran Artist Program comes in. VAP is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting and encouraging veteran participation in the arts.
On Friday, November 8, at the Katie Murphy Amphitheatre at FIT in NYC, Robinson will join military veteran writers Maurice Decaul, Mariette Kalinowski, J.A. Moad II and Jake Siegel, for an evening of readings and a panel discussion produced by Veteran Artist Program. VAP’s week of Arts & Service honors the sacrifices of our soldiers and opens up new ways to serve through artistic expression: entertaining, educating, honoring past service and serving the future. “This is What We Fought For” — the Veteran Artist Program theme for the week leading up to Veterans Day — “reminds us all of the value, joy and responsibility of service,” turning from past service during war to artistic service ahead, serving each other, both veteran and civilian. Tickets for the event here.