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How this Army veteran and convicted bank robber wrote the instant classic novel about the opioid epidemic

How this Army veteran and convicted bank robber wrote the instant classic novel about the opioid epidemic
[Photo illustration: Daisy Korpics; STILLFX/iStock (paper); photopsist/iStock (glass)]


Nico Walker served as an army medic for a year during the Iraq War. After he returned to Cleveland, he became an opioid user and eventually robbed 11 banks in four months to pay for his heroin habit. While serving an 11-year federal prison sentence, he wrote a novel on a typewriter in the prison’s legal library. Upon its release last August, it became a New York Times best seller and drew rave reviews for its depiction of the opioid crisis ravaging American neighborhoods. Cherry follows an unnamed narrator from college in Cleveland to the Iraqi desert (where he works as a medic) and back, and his descent into drugs and crime. “I wanted to be truthful about addiction and the realities of war,” Walker says. “I was frustrated by the clichéd writing out there, which isn’t constructive.” Days after the book’s publication, Avengers: Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo optioned it for a movie. Walker is set to be released from prison next year.

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