The novel Going After Cacciato was written by the American writer O’Brien and it was published in 1978. While many say that the novel is a war novel, the author claims it to be an anti-war novel, exploring the horrors and the way the soldiers were affected because of the war.
The main character in the novel is a soldier named Paul Berlin who is sent to look for a soldier who ran away, a soldier named Cacciato. The name chosen is suggestive because in Italian, cacciato is translated in English as hunted. Thus, the name employs that the soldiers involved in the war are all hunted by the things they have done or seen.
O’Brien includes many of his own experiences since he also served in the Vietnam war in his youth and he was able to experience firsthand the way war affected people. O’Brien wrote other books about the Vietnam War and in another of his novels, In the lake in the woods, he talks about a soldier who was involved in the My Lai massacre.
Going After Cacciato combines fictional and fantastic elements with real events to create a truly astonishing novel. The imaginary mingles with reality to the point where it becomes hard to distinguish between the two. The events are not recalled in a chronological order and it follows multiple narratives, capturing in this way the way a person is affected psychologically.