Fairfield University professor’s novel gains national praise

Award-winning author Phil Klay recently found his debut novel “Missionaries” listed among The Wall Street Journal’s “10 Best Books of 2020” and the 2020 “notable books” from the New York Times.

Penguin Press published his novel in October, which the Wall Street Journal called “a sweeping, interconnected novel of ideas in the tradition of Joseph Conrad and Norman Mailer...By taking a long view of the ‘rational insanity’ of global warfare, ‘Missionaries’ brilliantly fills one of the largest gaps in contemporary literature.” The New York Times said “Klay does not shy away from the thorny moral questions and psychological impacts of conflict, and the result is at once terrifying and thought-provoking.”

Klay is an associate professor at Fairfield University where he teaches fiction in the MFA (Masters of Fine Arts) program. The book jacket for “Missionaries” describes the plot as a “globalization of violence through the interlocking stories of four characters and the conflicts that define their lives.”

“For Mason, a U.S. Army Special Forces medic, and Lisette, a foreign correspondent, America’s long post-9/11 wars in the Middle East exerted a terrible draw that neither is able to shake. Where can such a person go next? All roads lead to Colombia, where the US has partnered with local government to keep predatory narco gangs at bay. Mason, now a liaison to the Colombian military, is ready for the good war, and Lisette is more than ready to cover it. Juan Pablo, a Colombian officer, must juggle managing the Americans’ presence and navigating a viper’s nest of factions bidding for power. Meanwhile, Abel, a lieutenant in a local militia, has lost almost everything in the seemingly endless carnage of his home province, where the lines between drug cartels, militias, and the state are semi-permeable,” the book jacket states.

Klay’s 2014 short story collection “Redeployment” earned the Marine Corps veteran a number of awards including the National Book Award for Fiction, the National Book Critics’ Circle John Leonard Award for best debut work in any genre and the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s James Webb Award.

For more information about Klay’s book, visit philklay.com.