Today is Remembrance Day, a day to contemplate and honour the sacrifice of our veterans. It is so important that we never forget, but perhaps the best tribute we could pay our veterans would be to abolish war. Doing a quick perusal, I was surprised by the number of anti-war novels on Schatje’s Shelves. Some of these have explicit anti-war messages; others convey anti-war sentiments via their portrayal of the horrors of war and its effects on people.
I posted the titles of these books last year but I’ve added books I’ve read this past year that belong on this list.
Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie shows the effects of the Nigerian civil war.
Empire of the Sun by J. G. Ballard tells of a young boy's struggle to survive World War II in China.
A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson focuses on a fighter pilot’s wartime experience.
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah details the experiences of a child soldier.
The Light in the Ruins by Chris Bohjalian portrays life in German-occupied Italy.
The Lost History of Stars by Dave Boling shines a spotlight on the Anglo-Boer war and the mistreatment of women and children during the conflict.
Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernières is “nearly unbearable in its portrayal of European darkness during the war.”
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne explores the horror of WWII through the eyes of the young son of a concentration camp commandant.
Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave is set in London and Malta during WWII; no one escapes untransformed after experiencing the horrors and losses of war.
A Dictionary of Mutual Understanding by Jackie Copleton has a Japanese woman revisiting her life before, during and after WWII.
The German Girl by Armando Lucas Correa sheds light on the sailing of the SS St. Louis, a significant event in World War II history.
A Sunday at the Pool in Kigali by Gil Courtemanche is a brutally blunt account of the events that led to the Rwandan genocide of 1994.
The Red Badge of Courage by Stephan Crane depicts the harsh realities of the American Civil War.
Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks has some brutal depictions of life in the trenches of WWI.
The Wars by Timothy Findley depicts the horrors of combat in WWI.
The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan is an account of Australian POW experiences as slave labourers and emphasizes man's inhumanity to man during war.
The Hired Man by Aminatta Forna, set in a Croation village after the War of Independence, chronicles how war reverberates in the daily lives of those touched by it.
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain has been described as the Catch-22 of the Iraq War.
The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank is a young girl’s journal written while her family was in hiding during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.
Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier paints a desolate picture of the American Civil War and its consequences.
The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway depicts life in Sarajevo in 1992 during the siege of that city.
The Tin Drum by Günter Grass is considered a classic of post-World War II literature.
The Good Soldier Švejk by Jaroslav Hašek explores the pointlessness and futility of conflict.
Stones from the River by Ursula Hegi heightens the grotesqueness of life in Nazi Germany.
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller is a satire on the insanity of war.
A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway examines the tenuous nature of love in a time of war.
For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway graphically describes the brutality of the Spanish civil war.
Hiroshima by John Hersey is an account of the aftermath of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini, set in Afghanistan, examines the effect of warfare on individuals, societies and nations.
Tell by Frances Itani shows the effects of war on men returning home after WWI.
Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally is a testament to the horrors of Hitler's attempts to eradicate Jews from Europe.
Mischling by Affinity Konar focuses on two girls who become inhabitants of Mengele’s zoo in Auschwitz.
The Signal Flame by Andrew Krivák shows how families are often collateral damage in war.
The Translation of Love by Lynne Kutsukake describes the situation of the Japanese both during and after WWII.
The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer is partly based on the author’s experiences during the Philippines Campaign in World War II.
A Marker to Measure Drift by Alexander Maksik examines the impact of the Liberian civil war.
A Constellation of Vital Phenomena by Anthony Marra portrays life in war-torn Chechnya.
In Country by Bobbie Ann Mason examines the effects of the Vietnam War.
The Only Café by Linden MacIntyre is a mystery but highlights some of the horrific events of the Lebanese Civil War.
Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky depicts life in France during the German Occupation.
The Sympathizer by Viet Thanh Nguyen emphasizes the futility of the Vietnam War for the Americans.
Orhan's Inheritance by Aline Ohanesian examines the consequences of the Armenian genocide.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje “traces the intersection of four damaged lives in an Italian villa at the end of World War II.”
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque explores the impact of World War I on German troops during the war and afterwards.
Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay offers a portrait of France under occupation.
On the Beach by Nevil Shute imagines the aftermath of a nuclear war.
The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson set on the cusp of WWI reminds the reader of the horrors that await.
Maus by Art Spiegelman is a graphic novel about living and surviving in Hitler's Europe.
Sophie’s Choice by William Styron emphasizes the universality of the suffering under the Third Reich.
The Pianist by Wladyslaw Szpilman is a Holocaust memoir which depicts the grim details of life in Warsaw under the Nazi occupation.
Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo is a classic anti-war novel narrated by a young American soldier injured during World War I.
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, which depicts the horrors of bombing directed against civilians, is considered one of the world’s great anti-war novels.
Night by Elie Wiesel details the author’s experiences in Nazi German concentration camps.
Lost in Winter by Kathleen Winter focuses on the futility of war and the effects of war on a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.
My Heart is Not My Own by Michael Wuitchik explores the brutality and impact of the civil war in Sierra Leone.
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, set in Nazi Germany with Death as its narrator, depicts the devastating effects of war.