Phil Klay takes Biggie over Pac every time, no contest

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Phil Klay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Iraq’s Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a Public Affairs Officer. After being discharged he went to Hunter College and received an MFA. His story “Redeployment” was originally published in Granta and is included in Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Granta, Tin House, and elsewhere.

Oh, and in 2014 Klay’s short story collection Redeployment won the National Book Award for Fiction. He’s won so many awards that I literally had to delete a paragraph from his bio, so if you’re interested in learning more, head to his website. This week on Writers Who Don’t Write Phil speaks to us about writing as a veteran in America, the lens he uses to approach identity politics, and the good accomplished by troops overseas that is so often ignored.

I remember reading Redeployment a few months before Phil won his National Book Award and thinking that this would help me relate to my friend who had recently come home from a tour in Afghanistan. When Phil gave his speech after winning his award, I was in the audience when he said “I can’t think of a more important conversation to be having.” I told myself I was going to go and have that conversation.

I’m not sure I ever had that talk. I could try and justify not speaking up by saying that he’s not the kind of guy who would want to speak about his experience at war, or that I never had the right opportunity. The truth is I didn’t want to have that conversation because it’s not an easy conversation to have. It’s not an excuse, but I hope this conversation with Phil helps change the mind of someone listening.


Thanks for sitting tight while Kyle and I recalibrated the show. From here on we’re going to be releasing episodes every other Wednesday, but we’ll try really hard to not miss a week.

In other news, we can finally join the adult podcasting table. Bear with me, since I’ve always wanted to do this:

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