Beyond the frontline: Phil Klay’s Redeployment wins the Warwick Prize for Writing 2015
• Phil Klay wins £25,000 for ‘a scaldingly affecting book’ in the biennial interdisciplinary award run by the University of Warwick.
• Iraq war veteran translates ‘personal knowledge into living fiction’
Phil Klay has tonight, Tuesday 10 November, been named the winner of the Warwick Prize for Writing 2015 for Redeployment, a short story collection dealing with the American experience of the Iraq War, published by Canongate. Redeployment chronicles the effects of the American war in Iraq, from the perspectives of the soldiers on the front line, the anguished military wife at home, the military chaplain and the veterans grappling with the effects of their dislocation. A former Marine Officer, Klay’s stories are characterised by a harrowing authenticity and a nuanced insight that can only be acquired through frontline experience.
The Warwick Prize for Writing is awarded every two years for a substantial piece of writing in the English language and this year’s theme is ‘Instinct’. Redeployment depicts the many sides of humanity manifest in the combat zone, from aggression and the unwavering will to survive to compassion and guilt.
On announcing the winner, the chair of judges, AL Kennedy commented:
"Redeployment is a scaldingly affecting book. We were all held by it. There is remarkable control, delicacy and subtlety in the spare style of prose here and a real grip of various psychologies and voices across the collection. Within his own terms, the author has reflected a wide range of experience and has translated personal knowledge into living fiction. Redeployment addresses - with remarkable frankness and nuance - one of the defining conflicts of our age. We were delighted to give the prize to Phil Klay."
A New York Times bestselling author and one of the most highly acclaimed pieces of fiction in 2014, Klay served in Iraq during the surge, before studying creative writing with Peter Carey, Colum McCann and Richard Ford.
Praise for Redeployment:
‘Redeployment is a quick but powerful and, for me, painful set of stories about the experience of ordinary soldiers in Iraq’ – Barack Obama
‘Redeployment is the real thing - a vivid and vital battery of war stories that does not rely solely on its subject matter for impact (although, make no mistake, the subject certainly has impact)’ – The Guardian
Klay’s Redeployment was joined on the shortlist by Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Serpent’s Tail), Rebecca Goss’ Her Birth (Carcanet), Karl Ove Knausgaard’s A Man In Love (Harvill Secker), Marilynne Robinson’s Lila (Virago) and Mark Vanhoenacker’s Skyfaring (Chatto & Windus).
The award was presented at a ceremony hosted by Warwick Chancellor, Sir Richard Lambert. In addition to winning the £25,000 monetary prize, Klay will be awarded the opportunity to take up a short placement at the University of Warwick.
The biennial prize, worth £25,000 and run by the University of Warwick, is uniquely international and cross-disciplinary award, open to any genre or form of writing.
The judging panel for the 2015 prize is chaired by Warwick Associate Professor, alumna and author A L Kennedy, who is joined by author and academic Robert Macfarlane, actor and director Fiona Shaw, Warwick alumnus and Lonely Planet founder Tony Wheeler and physician and writer Gavin Francis. The Warwick Prize for Writing was founded in 2009 and is run by the University of Warwick. The nominations process was expanded to include Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, in 2013 following the formation of the Monash Warwick Alliance.
Students and staff at both universities were invited to make nominations alongside publisher submissions.
Naomi Klein was the inaugural winner of the prize in 2009, for her book The Shock Doctrine, an exposé of disaster capitalism. The 2011 prize was awarded to Peter Forbes for Dazzled and Deceived, a cultural history of mimicry and camouflage in nature, art and warfare. The prize was awarded to a poet for the first time in 2013, to Alice Oswald for Memorial.
The University of Warwick is an active champion and key enabler of the arts and emerging writing talent. Former Warwick graduates include Jonathan Edwards, Emily Hasler and Claire Trevian. In February 2015, The Warwick Commission on Cultural Value, chaired by Vikki Heywood CBE and made up of a diverse group of cultural leaders and Warwick academics published a report entitled Enriching Britain: Culture, Creativity and Growth. The report highlighted the creative industries as an integral part of the UK economy, stressing their importance in generating economic and cultural well-being in Britain.
The Warwick Writing Programme, founded in 1996, is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind in Europe. It is an internationally acclaimed programme drawing students and staff from across the globe. Its faculty includes renowned authors from a variety of disciplines and genres such as Ian Sansom, Jonathan Skinner and Maureen Freely.
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