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Phil Klay is a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. His short story collection Redeployment won the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction and the National Book Critics' Circle John Leonard Prize for best debut work in any genre, and was selected as one of the 10 Best Books of 2014 by The New York Times.
His nonfiction work won the George W. Hunt, S.J., Prize for Journalism, Arts & Letters in the category of Cultural & Historical Criticism in 2018. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and the Brookings Institution's Brookings Essay series. He is on the Board of Arts in the Armed Forces and he currently teaches fiction at Fairfield University
EDUCATION AND MILITARY CAREER
During the summer of 2004, while a student at Dartmouth College, where he played rugby and boxed, Klay attended Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia.He graduated from Dartmouth College in 2005 and then joined the U.S. Marines, where he was commissioned as a second lieutenant.
During the U.S. troop surge in Iraq, he served for thirteen months in Anbar province in Iraq from January 2007 to February 2008. He left the military in 2009 and then earned an M.F.A. in creative writing from Hunter College in 2011.
Klay's collection of short stories, Redeployment, was published in March 2014. Writing in the Daily Beast, Brian Castner described the book "a clinic in the profanities of war".
In the New York Times, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Dexter Filkins wrote that "Klay succeeds brilliantly, capturing on an intimate scale the ways in which the war in Iraq evoked a unique array of emotion, predicament and heartbreak.... Iraq comes across not merely as a theater of war but as a laboratory for the human condition in extremis. Redeployment is ... the best thing written so far on what the war did to people’s souls."
In November 2014, Klay won the National Book Award for fiction for his collection of short stories Redeployment. The judges described it as a "brutal, piercing sometimes darkly funny collection" that "stakes Klay's claim for consideration as the quintessential storyteller of America’s Iraq conflict."
The New York Times included Redeployment on its list of the "Ten Best Books of 2014", and it received the National Book Critics Circle's 2014 John Leonard Award given for a best first book in any genre. In 2015, he received the James Webb Award for fiction dealing with Marines or Marine Corps life from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation for Redeployment. In June 2015, Redeployment received the W.Y. Boyd Literary Award for Excellence in Military Fiction from the American Library Association.
Princeton University named him a Hodder Fellow for the 2015-2016 academic year. In 2018, he headed the five-member jury that awarded the first Aspen Words Literary Prize. In July 2018, Klay was named 2018 winner of the George W. Hunt, S.J., Prize for Journalism, Arts & Letters in the category Cultural & Historical Criticism.
Klay has a novel entitled Missionaries, which was released in October 2020.