The War Tour by Zoe Lambert

26th Mar 2012


The War Tour is her début short story collection, published by Comma Press and longlisted last week for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.

Featuring fifteen stories ranging from Salford to Berlin, Budapest, Belgrade and beyond, The War Tour gives voices to real and imagined characters from warfare past and present.

At times uncomfortable and unsettling, the stories are vivid and powerful, examining and imagining the fractured lives that conflict causes. Lambert’s sharp and thought-provoking prose captures time, place and culture with deftly-described details, both researched and invented.

Poignantly portraying the everyday loves, losses, strengths and sacrifices of those living with war, The War Tour depicts trauma, horror and confusion alongside defiance, duty and survival, all in quiet, compelling language that resonates long beyond the final page.

The characters are multi-faceted and authentic, and almost always as conflicted as their surroundings. While one or two err towards one-dimensional, for the most part they are disturbingly believable, making their stories moving and memorable.

Not a collection for the faint-hearted, although not all are gruesome and gory, each is in its own way devastating, conveying the contradicting actions and emotions of those involved in war and raising issue of collusion, resilience and responsibility that make the alien surroundings and situations depicted feel at times too close for comfort.

Published last year by Comma Press, you can buy the paperback for £5.91, or get the Kindle edition for £6.18.

Rating: 4/5

Recommended for: Armchair heroes and adventurers, and anyone interested in the untold stories of past and present wars.

Other recommended reading: For more dark-hearted short stories with a quiet but powerful punch, read Because They Wanted To by For Books’ Sake favourite Mary Gaitskill. And get your mitts on Short Stack, our collection of the best new pulp fiction written by women, to read Zoe’s story The Last Holiday.

Jane Bradley