Tonight Books and Books welcomes National Book Award Winner, Phil Klay. Klay's story collection, Redeployment, sketches the lives of the young American men deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Klay, a former Marine who served in Iraq, draws fully-formed characters, and his collection is no mere celebration of military heroics. Rather, it delves into the psyches of soldiers, both in the middle of conflict and the often-difficult transition back to domestic life.
Klay's collection isn't for military buffs or readers looking for straightforward stories of war heroics. Rather, as New York Times reviewer Dexter Filkins wrote, "[it shows us] the myriad human manifestations that result from the collision of young, heavily armed Americans with a fractured and deeply foreign country that very few of them even remotely understand."
Klay's stories are both disturbing and, frankly, enlightening, particularly for those of us whose lives have been relatively unaffected by the decade of war. In one story, Klay tells the story of a young solider transitioning back to civilian life, to an ostensibly comfortable life in America's suburbs. The soldier struggles with the brutality he's both witnessed and perpetrated. But he's surrounded by people who can't possible understand, people "who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died."
The stories are also populated by disaffected contractors, morally conflicted chaplains, and soldiers suffering from PTSD.
Klay's collection is both harrowing and funny. It's a series of sharply rendered portraits and Redeployment is likely to become the defining work of the Iraq and Afghan wars.
Klay reads from Redeployment tonight at Books and Books, Coral Gables. The reading begins at 8 p.m. and is free. For more information visit booksandbooks.com.
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