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Is Phil Klay's debut short story collection the best book about the Iraq War? --Kevin Nguyen
“Success was a matter of perspective. In Iraq it had to be.” This opening line, from one of the stories in Phil Klay's impressive debut collection, Redeployment, encapsulates what the book does best: through the many viewpoints represented by his twelve stories, Klay gives us not just a gripping portrait of the Iraq War but a glimpse into the true human cost of war, abroad and at home.
Though the United States entered Afghanistan and Iraq over a decade ago, novels about those conflicts have only begun gaining critical and commercial attention in the past few years. Kevin Powers's The Yellow Birds, was one of the most talked about books of 2012; the same year, Ben Fountain's Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction. Both books were finalists for the National Book Award and included in our own Best of the Year list.
Powers and Fountain took very different approaches to the Iraq War. The Yellow Birds is a moving, often lyrical story that follows the tradition of in-the-trenches war fiction, taking hints from such classics as The Things They Carried all the way back to All Quiet on the Western Front (Powers is a veteran who received his MFA after returning to the U.S.); in contrast, Billy Lynn is more of a satire, taking place on home turf as the surviving members of Bravo Squad are paraded out during the halftime show of a Dallas Cowboys game.
Tonally and thematically, Redeployment falls somewhere in between these two novels. In its diversity of viewpoints, Klay has composed a complicated portrait of the war and its psychological effect on Iraq and at home in the States. Like Yellow Birds, these stories are moving and subtly philosophical; like Billy Lynn, Redeployment isn't afraid to be funny, to be brash.
Read the full review on Omnivoracious.
An Amazon Best Book of the Month, March 2014: I defy any readers of Phil Klay’s stunning Redeployment to a) put it down and b) limit the number of “wows” they utter while reading it. These twelve stories, are all about the Iraq War or its aftermath; they are so direct, so frank, they will impress readers who have read all they care to about the war as well as those who thought they couldn’t stand to read about it at all. The strength of Klay’s stories lies in his unflinching, un-PC point of view, even for the soldiers he so clearly identifies with and admires. For example, one veteran tells a guy in a bar about a particularly harrowing war experience. When the stranger, moved, declares his respect for our troops, the soldier responds, “I don’t want you to respect what I’ve been through. I want you to be disgusted.” Klay is fearless; he eviscerates platitude and knee-jerk politics every chance he gets. “[A fellow soldier] was the one guy in the squad who thought the country wouldn’t be better off if we just nuked it until the desert turned into a flat plane of grass,” he writes. These stories are at least partly autobiographical, and yet, for all their verisimilitude, they’re also shaped by an undefinable thing called art. Phil Klay is a writer to watch. --Sara Nelson
This is my first read of Iraqi and afghan deployment stories. I purchased the book because of the recent awards it had received. I wasn't disappointed. Read morePublished 7 hours ago by philip s
Superb portrait of the soul-destroying effects of the Iraq War, written from 12 different points of view. Evocative, heart-breaking, shocking. Read morePublished 10 hours ago by Suzanne NYC
This book was excellent. The author very poignantly expresses what it's like to be over there and then come back. The stories vary from hilarious to tragic, without embellishment.Published 11 hours ago by Derek Alvarado
Well written and thought provoking. A great group of short stories.Published 17 hours ago by M. Wagner
Gripping, insightful, disturbing, first person view into modern warfare through various eyes without politics.
Perfect. Only disappointment....it ended. Read more
I am at a bit of a loss having finished this amazing set of short stories in the middle of the night during a personal crisis in my own life. Read morePublished 20 hours ago by Elizabeth J. Tarry-crowe
It was a good all around read. It mixed not only military but civilian life as well, the transitioning period. Which I believe it is a difficult time for military members.Published 23 hours ago by Boris