[Hilary Plum] does more than combat silence, she conveys the sense that each of us is history (even if a history of lies), that we are American history. And her novel makes it clear that the great American silence is at the root of the great American melancholy.Etel Adnan
They Dragged Them Through the Streets
A veteran of the US war in Iraq commits suicide, and his brother joins with four friends in search of ways to protest the war. Together they undertake a series of small-scale bombings until an explosion claims one of their own. This grave and elegant novel is an elegy for these two deaths and the war itself.
They Dragged Them Through the Streets is a bold meditation on idealism, anger, and the American home front’s experience of today’s wars. This is an innovative work in the great tradition of war literature and a singular chronicle of one generation’s conflicts.
Does a nation care for what it does? Usually, it doesn’t. But we need to be reminded of our reality largely filled with wars. And we wait. And this novel does it. I read it as if in one breath, grateful on behalf of the millions who could identify with it. It took a woman with a conscience who’s also a “woman of words” such as Hilary Plum to create a bunch of people scarred by the war (in Iraq), to speak on behalf of the living and of the dead, as Literature must. She does more than combat silence, she conveys the sense that each of us is history (even if a history of lies), that we are American history. And her novel makes it clear that the great American silence is at the root of the great American melancholy.
In the cool and graceful prose of They Dragged Them Through the Streets,Hilary Plum traces the fault lines of paradox and contradiction her cast of young activists are driven by as they attempt to make sense of and respond to the official violence of the era. This courageous novel addresses the anxieties of our age.
Hilary Plum’s debut novel delves into our private and public sorrows with wrenching grace. This is a book of enormous compassion, meticulous beauty. Plum grapples with the devastation of war and environmental degradation, with suicide and madness, the tenacity and delicacy of friendship. The novel offers no easy redemption — her people blunder around in the dark. They are impulsive, admirable, failing, often paralyzed. And yet they love, Plum insists, and they prevail.