Nominated by:

Kansas City Public Library, USA

Milwaukee Public Library, USA

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, USA

Publisher of nominated edition:

Ecco Press, USA

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk

Ben Fountain      

2014 Longlist

A ferocious firefight with Iraqi insurgents at “the battle of Al-Ansakar Canal”—three minutes and forty-three seconds of intense warfare caught on tape by an embedded Fox News crew—has transformed the eight surviving men of Bravo Squad into America’s most sought-after heroes. For the past two weeks, the Bush administration has sent them on a media-intensive nationwide Victory Tour to reinvigorate public support for the war. Now, on this chilly and rainy Thanksgiving, the Bravos are guests of America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys, slated to be part of the halftime show alongside the superstar pop group Destiny’s Child.

Among the Bravos is the Silver Star–winning hero of Al-Ansakar Canal, Specialist William Lynn, a nineteen-year-old Texas native. Amid clamoring patriots sporting flag pins on their lapels and Support Our Troops bumper stickers on their cars, the Bravos are thrust into the company of the Cowboys’ hard-nosed businessman/owner and his coterie of wealthy colleagues; a luscious born-again Cowboys cheerleader; a veteran Hollywood producer; and supersized pro players eager for a vicarious taste of war. Among these faces Billy sees those of his family—his worried sisters and broken father—and Shroom, the philosophical sergeant who opened Billy’s mind and died in his arms at Al-Ansakar.

Over the course of this day, Billy will begin to understand difficult truths about himself, his country, his struggling family, and his brothers-in-arms—soldiers both dead and alive. In the final few hours before returning to Iraq, Billy will drink and brawl, yearn for home and mourn those missing, face a heart-wrenching decision, and discover pure love and a bitter wisdom far beyond his years.

Poignant, riotously funny, and exquisitely heartbreaking, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is a devastating portrait of our time, a searing and powerful novel that cements Ben Fountain’s reputation as one of the finest writers of his generation.

(From Publisher)

About the Author

Ben Fountain is the author of a short story collection, Brief Encounters with Che Guevara, and a novel, Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk. He grew up in North Carolina and has lived in Dallas, Texas, since 1983.

Librarians’ Comments

Fountain writes with an easy grace about a modern conundrum – the treatment and place of American soldiers serving in a war zone during the age of social media and soundbites. Readers will sympathize with young men feeling adrift in their own country, terrified overseas, and comfortable only in the presence of their comrades-in-arms. Soldier Billy slowly comes to realize he doesn’t understand the country he defends anymore than his countrymen understand him.

Using humor and a cast of colorful characters, this allegory of a hero’s journey gives an inside look at the contemporary soldier’s life while questioning our society’s perspective on patriotism and celebrity.

A day in the life of an Iraqi war hero who, with his seven battalion mates, will be honoured in a halftime ceremony by the Dallas Cowboys professional football team. A darkly humorous, yet big hearted meditation on the Iraq war, the state of Texas and American football.

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