Phil Klay felt there was a voice missing in the discussion about the Iraq War.
As a Marine, he figured who better than a service member to tell America what war is really like. So, he began penning a book about his experience – a process that took four-and-a-half years. His book, “Redeployment,” was released in 2014 and was born out of Klay’s desire to add to the public conversation about war.
“There seemed such a disconnect between the Marines I knew and normal civilian life back home,” Klay told Rare. “And as I started writing, I developed friendships with members of the veteran writing community; people who were asking themselves the same sorts of questions about not just war, but about what America looks like when you get back.”
Klay began writing his book, a collection of short stories, a few months after returning from Iraq. The book was his attempt to add to the national conversation about war, a conversation he said he wished the country was having.
Klay’s book won the National Book Award for Fiction in 2014. In 2015, he received the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s James Webb award for fiction related to Marines or Marine Corps life, as well as the National Book Critics’ Circle John Leonard Award for best debut work in any genre, the American Library Association’s W. Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction, the Chautauqua Prize, and the 2015 Warwick Prize for Writing.
A graduate of Dartmouth College, Klay served in Iraq’s Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a public affairs officer. After being discharged, Klay earned a master’s degree in fine arts from Hunter College.
Klay is inspired by people around him. He says writing has always been something he’s loved.
“When I started writing about Iraq it took on a different tone, because I was writing about similar experiences to ones that people I knew were working through,” Klay told Rare.
“Writing became something that wasn’t just fun, wasn’t just telling a story, but something with a lot of weight behind it,” he told Rare. “I wrote with this image in my mind of all the vets who’d kick my butt if I screwed it up.”
Klay is currently writing a novel and hopes to finish most of it in 2016. He says he doesn’t write fast, but he tries to write truthfully.
Watch the full YouTube video credited above: Author Phil Klay Reads From “Redeployment” via OPBWeb