Synopses & Reviews
Phil Klay's Redeployment
takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned. Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos.
In "Redeployment", a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people "who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died." In "After Action Report", a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn't commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened. A Morturary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both. A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel. And in the darkly comic "Money as a Weapons System", a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball. These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier's daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier's homecoming.
Redeployment is poised to become a classic in the tradition of war writing. Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss. Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this work marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation.
"Klay's title story, a moving homage to soldiers of war who must return home to attempt a normal life, made a splash when it was first published in Granta. This debut collection of a dozen stories resonates with themes of battle and images of residual battlefield pain and psychological trauma. This is especially evident in heart-wrenching stories like 'Bodies,' in which a soldier buffers his grisly war stories in order not to have to truly share the horror of his tour in Iraq. Alternately, some stories are lighter and offer glimmers of humanity against Klay's bleak landscape of combat, as in 'Money as a Weapons System,' which finds a Foreign Service Officer charged with improving the civil affairs of Iraqi citizens by offering them baseball lessons. Klay grasps both tough-guy characterization and life spent in the field, yet he also mines the struggle of soldiers to be emotionally freed from the images they can't stop seeing. Written in clipped sentences capturing the brutality of conflict, the specter of death permeates each story, from the corpse-eating dogs in the title story to Sergeant Deetz in 'Ten Kliks South,' who snickers at his troop's body count of insurgents. It's clear that Klay, himself a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps who served in Iraq, has parlayed his insider's knowledge of soldier-bonding and emotional scarring into a collection that proves a powerful statement on the nature of war, violence, and the nuances of human nature." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
“A sharp set of stories....Klay's grasp of bureaucracy and bitter irony here rivals Joseph Heller and George Orwell....A no-nonsense and informed reckoning with combat.” Kirkus Reviews (starred)
“Important reading; pay attention.” Library Journal
"Harrowing at times and blackly comic at others, the authors first collection could become for the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts what Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried is for the Vietnam War." Ben Fountain, author of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk
"Phil Klay's stories are tightly wound psychological thrillers. The global wars of our last decade weave in and out of these affecting tales about characters who sound and feel like your neighbors. Klay comes to us through Leo Tolstoy, Ray Carver, and Ann Beattie. It's a thrill to read a young writer so brilliantly parsing the complexities and vagaries of war. That he does so with surgical precision and artful zest makes this a must-read." Colum McCann, author of Let the Great World Spin
“These are gorgeous stories — fierce, intelligent and heartbreaking. Phil Klay, a former Marine, brings us both the news from Iraq and the news from back home. His writing is bold and sure, and full of all sorts of authority — literary, military and just plain human. This is news we need to hear, from a new writer we need to know about.” Sparta
"Redeployment is a stunning, upsetting, urgently necessary book about the impact of the Iraq war on both soldiers and civilians. Klay's writing is searing and powerful, unsparing of its characters and its readers, art made from a soldier's fearless commitment to confront those losses that can't be tallied in statistics. 'Be honest with me,' a college student asks a returning veteran in one story, and Phil Klay's answer is a challenge of its own: these stories demand and deserve our attention." Anthony Swofford, author of Jarhead
About the Author
Phil Klay is a Dartmouth grad and a veteran of the US Marine Corps. He served in Iraq during the Surge and subsequently received an MFA from Hunter College, where he studied with Colum McCann and Peter Carey, and worked as Richard Fords research assistant. His first published story, Redeployment”, appeared in Grantas Summer 2011 issue. That story led to the sale of his forthcoming collection, which will be published in seven countries. His writing has also appeared in the New York Times, the New York Daily News, Tin House, and in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2012.