4 out of 5: In this slim novel, Margarita Anastasia Morales (nicknamed “Flash”) is a photojournalist in her late twenties, living alone in Istanbul while her husband, a war-correspondent, covers the war in Iraq. Flash is planning to join her husband in Iraq until she receives an anonymous letter accusing him of adultery while abroad. The letter knocks Flash’s life off its prior path. Spiraling into a state of self-reflection and loneliness (with the help of plenty of red wine), Flash realizes “that something essential had begun to give way in [her] marriage” and “that the disillusion we had so long been running from had finally come for us.”
The Last War is an introspective meditation on marriage and identity. As Flash meanders around, both literally through the beautiful streets of Istanbul and figuratively through her memories of her husband, she considers whether she was ever happy in her marriage. Very little action in this novel touches Flash, who seems to be trapped in one of life’s out-of-the-way eddies, but Menéndez’s cutting prose, striped of all pretension, keeps a quick pace. The Last War is a masterful tone piece on love and commitment in the face of war.