The God of War

A Novel

The God of War

The year is 1978. Ares Ramirez, age 12, lives with his mother, Laurel, and his younger brother Malcolm in a trailer at the edge of the Salton Sea, an unintentionally man-made body of water in the middle of the Southern California desert. It is a desolate, forgotten place, whose inhabitants thrive amidst seemingly impossible circumstances.

Where birds fly by day across the desert sky, by night government fighter planes and helicopters make training runs using live ammunition, and an anonymous dead body floats in from the sea. These events inspire Ares, on the cusp of his adolescence, to enact elaborate fantasies of mortal combat. His membership in a troubled family marks Ares as a casualty of a different kind of war. Malcolm, age 7, is mentally handicapped, and his mother chooses not to do anything about it.

Ares' struggle with the burden of responsibility -- to himself and to others -- draws him into a world of drugs, violence, and sex that he is not prepared for, launching him into a very personal battle for his own identity, one that has a lethal outcome.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 304 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416563174 | 
  • April 2009
Add to Cart
List Price $19.99
In Stock: Usually ships within 1 business day


Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Marisa Silver. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion of The God of War. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


The God of War is the latest novel from Marisa Silver, author of No Direction Home, and the story collection, Babe in Paradise. Silver’s fluid writing and vibrant descriptions merge to tell the moving story of two brothers; a story of loyalty, love, survival, and guilt, and how each of these things bind us. Twelve year-old Ares feels responsible for his mentally handicapped younger brother, Malcolm. Left to his own devices by their single mother, he attempts taking his first steps toward adulthood but finds himself irrevocably tethered to his family. Something in his past, a searing guilt that won’t let relent, keeps Ares forever looking out for his brother. The story, set in 1978 at the edge of the Salton Sea near California’s Mojave Desert, encompasses the beauty and harshness of its rugged setting as it races to its inevitable conclusion.    


Questions for discussion:

1. This story takes see more

More Books from this Author

Following her acclaimed, Los Angeles Times Book Prize–nominated novel, The God of War, Marisa Silver’s extraordinary book, Alone With You, is a starkly elegant and superbly rendered collection of short stories.Marisa Silver dazzled and inspired readers with her critically acclaimed The God of War (a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist), praised by Richard Russo as “a novel of great metaphorical depth and beauty.” In this elegant, finely wrought new collection, Alone With You, Silver has created...

About the Author

Marisa Silver
Bader Howar

Marisa Silver

Marisa Silver is the author of the novels The God of War (a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize), and No Direction Home. She made her fiction debut in The New Yorker when she appeared in the inaugural Debut Fiction issue. Her collection of stories, Babe in Paradise, was a New York Times Notable Book and a Los Angeles Times Best Book of the Year. Silver's work has been included in Best American Short Stories and the O. Henry Prize Stories. She lives in Los Angeles. Visit her on the Web at