PRAISE & REVIEWS
"The stories in this volume are, quite frankly, extraordinary. Not because they tell us about the war or the soldiers who fight the war or the families they come home to, but because they tell us the truth—the deep, emotional truth of the lives of those who populate the stories... To be succinct: You Know When the Men Are Gone is the explosive sort of literary triumph that appears only every few years. As such, it should not be missed." Read full review
—New York Journal of Books
Siobhan Fallon tells gripping, straight-up, no-nonsense stories about American soldiers and their families. It’s clear from her tender yet tough-minded first book, “You Know When the Men Are Gone,” that she knows this world very well. The reader need not look at Ms. Fallon’s biography to guess that she, like her book’s characters, has spent time living in Fort Hood, Tex., watching the effects of soldiers’ leave-takings and homecomings on men and the wives they leave behind. Married to a man who is on at least his third tour of duty, Ms. Fallon now lives where he is stationed, in the Middle East. Read full review
—The New York Times
Library Journal Starred Review
Fallon’s accomplished debut short story collection offers a glimpse into a world few civilians will ever experience: Fort Hood, TX. Fort Hood is a place where husbands and fathers pack their gear and leave for deployments of a year or longer. Left behind are the families, and each of the eight stories describes a different spouse or family coping with such a prolonged absence. The wife and mother with breast cancer, the teenage bride, the young mother, the Serbian wife who speaks little English—each deals with the stress and loneliness of her husband’s deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan in her own way. Some isolate themselves, choosing to live off base or move back in with their families. Others embrace the company and support of other army wives and attend Family Readiness Group meetings. This might be a work of fiction, but Fallon’s work is remarkably real, and each story’s characters immediately grip the reader. VERDICT Excellent; even readers who do not usually read short stories should seek out this book.
—Shaunna Hunter, Hampden-Sydney Coll. Lib., VA
"The crucial role of military wives becomes clear in Fallon's powerful, resonant debut collection, where the women are linked by absence and a pervading fear that they'll become war widows. Fallon writes with both grit and grace: her depiction of military life is enlivened by telling details, from the early morning sound of boots stomping down the stairs to the large sign that tallies automobile fatalities of troops returned from Iraq. Significant both as war stories and love stories, this collection certifies Fallon as an indisputable talent. (Jan.) Read full review
—Publisher's Weekly starred review
"In an accomplished debut story collection, Fallon lays bare the lonely lives of military families when the men go to war. In these eight loosely connected tales, the families of Fort Hood, Texas, wait for their men to come home. That waiting, filled with anxiety, boredom and sometimes resentment, creates a Godot-like existence, in which real life begins only when a soldier’s deployment ends... Fallon reveals the mostly hidden world of life on base for military families, and offers a powerful, unsentimental portrait of America at war. A fresh look at the Iraq war as it plays out on the domestic front."
“You Know When the Men Are Gone’’ is a haunting collection likely to inform and move many readers, whether they are familiar with the intricacies of military life or not. Though the everyday experience of the women waiting for their husbands to come home may be “a sense of muted life,’’ these stories pulse with the reality of combat and its domestic repercussions. Read full review
"You Know When the Men Are Gone" poignantly reminds us that the sacrifices made by members of the military hardly begin on the battlefield. Read full review
—The Wall Street Journal
"Siobhan Fallon's You Know When the Men Are Gone helps close the cultural gap in understanding between military families and civilians. These stories hold a mirror up to the lives of servicemembers and their spouses, and because the tales are beautifully and sensitively told, they spur conversations that Americans need to engage in. As a military spouse, I am grateful for a book that tells it like it is. As a reader, I appreciate the fine writing and keen insights. Anyone who has ever wondered how and why military families endure separations during wartime should read this important and timely book."
—Alison Buckholtz, author of Standing By: The Making of an American Military Family in a Time of War
"You Know When the Men Are Gone is a stunning debut. Fallon's prose is spare and clean and beautiful, but it is her characters that will leave you breathless. They are all so alive and real, different in many ways, but strung together by a bright thread of common experience. This is a devastating book, and beautiful. Devastatingly beautiful."
—Michael David Lukas, author of The Oracle of Stamboul
“There is the war we know – from Hollywood and CNN, about dirt-smeared soldiers disarming IEDs and roaring along in Humvees and kicking down the doors of terrorist hideouts – and then there is the battleground at home depicted by breakout author Siobhan Fallon, an army wife with a neglected, deeply important perspective and a staggering arsenal of talent, her sentences popping like small arm fire, her stories scaring a gasp out of you like tracer rounds burning in the night sky over your home town.”
—Benjamin Percy, author of The Wilding, Refresh, Refresh,
and The Language of Elk
"Siobhan Fallon's YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE is a haunting elegy to those who bear the real burden when our nation goes to war: the spouses and children left behind. She writes with the authority of hard-earned experience, and this collection of stories has much to teach us all."
—Nathaniel Fick, author of One Bullet Away:
The Making of a Marine Officer
"What a fascinating, rare glimpse into the domesticity of war. This is a wonderful debut. Each beautifully rendered story is braced with intelligence and wisdom."
—Jill Ciment, author of Heroic Measures, The Tattoo Artist,
Teeth of the Dog, and Law of Falling Bodies
“Siobhan Fallon is a remarkable debut author whose first collection of short stories, YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE, signals the debut of a new American talent. I was drawn into a world I had never seen before, and found heartache, courage, and laughter there.”
—Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation
"In this poignant and beautiful collection of linked stories, Siobhan Fallon has created a world of characters we need to know. These are our wounded, our courageous, our disheartened, our cynical and our brave. You won't read these stories on the front pages of the newspaper, but still they feel like a news flash about the emotional toll of war. YOU KNOW WHEN THE MEN ARE GONE delivers to us the inner lives of families who fight for our country while fighting their deepest fears and demons. This is a brave and illuminating book.”
—Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion
A brilliant work of fiction that speaks a haunting truth on every page. This is an important work that should be embraced by the military community and beyond.
—Tanya Biank, author of Army Wives, the basis for the Lifetime TV drama Army Wives
In You Know When the Men Are Gone, Siobhan Fallon writes with grace and intelligence about the army wives at Fort Hood who are waiting for their men to return from Iraq. Fallon follows the lives of women with children, women with cancer, women who can't bear another night of sleeping alone between flypaper walls. Some of Fallon's women find courage in the others left behind, some take comfort in a past without war -- in their memories, their Hawaii's, their first true loves. All have a sense that real life stops the moment the men board the busses and leave Fort Hood. You Know When the Men Are Gone is a poignant debut, written with the kind of love and detailed accuracy that can only come from living behind the barbed wire at Fort Hood, as Siobhan Fallon has. You'll laugh with her characters and you'll cry with them. Like them, you'll try to add up what it's all worth. You Know When the Men Are Gone is funny, sad, wise, and essential. Turn off the news and pick up this book. You won't be disappointed.
—Rebecca Rasmussen, author of The Bird Sisters