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  • NYS Writers Institute

Video: Phil Klay, fiction writer and Iraq War combat veteran on Thursday, October 28

Video from the October 28, 2021 event with Phil Klay:


“The beautiful, violent and almost perfect new novel by Phil Klay.”

-- Los Angeles Times


Informal Craft Talk:

4:30 p.m., Multi-Purpose Room, Campus Center West Addition


7:30 p.m., Campus Center West Auditorium

Both locations at University at Albany, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany 12222

Free and open to the public.

Phil Klay, fiction writer and a Iraq War combat veteran, received the National Book Award for his 2014 short story collection, Redeployment, inspired by his own military service. Klay spent 13 months in Iraq’s Anbar Province during the U.S. troop surge (2007-8).

His debut novel is Missionaries (2020), one of former President Barack Obama’s “Favorite Books of 2020” was named one of “The 10 Best Books of 2020” by The Wall Street Journal.

Missionaries explores America’s involvement in Colombia’s civil wars. Klay draws on six years of research in Colombia and America to tell a tale of drug cartels, state militias, and U.S. advisors who acquired their skills and training amid the carnage of America’s wars in the Middle East.

Praised by The New York Times as “an astounding novel that does not shy away from the thorny moral questions and psychological impacts of conflict,” Missionaries hones in on the ground-level consequences of American interference in Colombia’s ongoing civil war to tell a fascinating a story of terrorism, drug wars, and global conflict through the intertwined perspectives of a U.S. Army Special Forces medic, a foreign correspondent, a Colombian officer, and a militia lieutenant.

Speaking of Obama's praise for his work, Klay told The Connecticut Post, “It’s an amazing feeling, but it’s strange. One of the reasons that it’s strange is that I’ve been critical of the president and his foreign policy. At the same time, I’m deeply appreciative that he’s interested in what I have to say.”

[A] compact epic of a novel contains perhaps Klay’s finest writing yet . . . Using his formidable gifts for scene-setting, meaningful irony and deep human empathy, Klay weaves together a set of stories over the course of nearly three decades . . . Amid raging fires and illness and constitutional crises, Klay’s book roars something vital: Never forget about war or the blood and bone and the evil and the reckless idealism of who we all really are...
Missionaries is horrifying and refreshing, challenging us to reflect not just on the destruction of our own national institutions but also on the ugly and ongoing consequences of American power abroad.”
Los Angeles Times

Copies of Phil Klay's books will be available for purchase at the event. You may also shop for the books in advance at the local, independent Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza.

In the news

Author Phil Klay to present in Albany on Oct. 28, by Jack Rightmyer, published in the Times Union October 20, 2021

American Purpose After the Fall of Kabul, by Phil Klay, The New Yorker, August 25, 2021

In 'Redeployment,' Former Marine Explores The Challenges Of Coming Home, Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross, National Public Radio, November 25, 2014

Phil Klay online



All individuals, regardless of vaccination status, must wear a mask or other face covering while inside any UAlbany owned, operated or leased building.

Unvaccinated individuals are also required to wear face coverings in all outdoor settings. This revised mask requirement will remain in place until the University removes the requirement upon the recommendations of the CDC or other public health officials. Individuals should not attend our in-person events if they — or anyone in their household — are displaying any symptoms of COVID-19. More information.



Courtesy parking for Writers Institute events on the Uptown Campus will be available in the State Quad Student Parking Lot one hour prior to and one hour after events.

Visitor parking lots are also available for $5 per vehicle, though parking spaces are very limited.

For more information, visit


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