CHICAGO — "Arizona Moon: A Novel of Vietnam" by J. M. Graham and published by Naval Institute Press is the winner of the 2017 W. Y. Boyd Literary Award “for Excellence in Military Fiction.”
The W. Y. Boyd Literary Novel Award honors the best fiction set in a period when the United States was at war. The $5,000 award and citation, donated by author W.Y. Boyd II, recognizes the service of American veterans and encourages the writing and publishing of outstanding war-related fiction.
J. M. Graham has written a firsthand account of the trials and tribulations of three individuals, two Marines, Cpl. Raymond Strader, Squad Leader who is on the verge of going home and LCpl. Noche Gonshayee an Apache Indian who is a warrior but caught between two cultures. The third individual is Troung Nghi a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) student volunteer. The novel set in the Arizona Territory in the An Hoa basin of Quang Providence, South Vietnam in October 1967. The description of the living conditions and fighting is graphic and describes how the men managed to survive, fight and die in this god forsaken place. Their only lifelines are their radios and the helicopters that often flew through miserable weather and enemy fire to bring food, supplies ammo, and mail from a friends and loved ones. This latter lifeline also brought reinforcements and evacuated the wounded and dead.
The author has given the reader one of the most vivid accounts of what it was like for both sides to conduct combat operations in such an environment. You follow them as they slough through rain, mud, rivers, and hack their way through dense jungle while on combat patrols or, in the case of the North Vietnamese volunteer, carry ammunition and supplies through the jungle trails in advance of the Tet Offensive. Graham allows the reader to experience the men’s adrenaline and fears in numerous firefights. Through it all the goal of all these men is survival and to return home.
The author is a veteran of Vietnam having served as a Navy Combat Corpsman with the 2nd Battalion, 5th Marines in 1967. He writes from firsthand experience having served in this area. He is very familiar with his Marines and their lingo. His descriptions allows the reader to understand what it is like for young men at war, their fear of facing the enemy, the vivid picture of fighting in all its totality, the bonding of the Marines and the sorrow over losing ones’ friends. The same fear was also experienced by the young North Vietnamese Student Volunteer as he and others carried supplies south under constant bombing by US aircraft and entanglement with the Marines on patrol. The Naval Institute Press is to be commended for publishing this work.
The members of the W. Y. Boyd Jury overwhelmingly selected Arizona Moon for this year’s award. The annual award will be presented at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago in late June.
Members of the 2017 W. Y. Boyd Literary Award are Robert Schnare, Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island (retired), Christine Bradley, Norwalk Public Library, Connecticut, Maxine Reneker, Monterey, California, Ronald Steensland, Panama City, Florida, Beth McGuire, Greenburg, Pennsylvania, and Andrew Mangels, Westlake Porter Public Library, Westlake Ohio.
The deadline for submission of applications for the 2018 W.Y. Boyd Literary Award is Dec. 1. Guidelines and applications are available on the ALA website.