This year’s One Community/One Book project culminated with an appearance on the Health Science Center campus by former Marine Phil Klay, author of Redeployment, the 2014 National Book Award in Fiction honoree. On October 30, approximately three hundred attendees filled the Holly Auditorium to hear the author discuss his collection of short stories based upon his duty as a Public Affairs Officer in Iraq’s Anbar Province during the surge. Members of the audience included individuals from the San Antonio community, local health professionals, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio faculty, staff, and students, and area veterans. Video telecast was also available at the Regional Academic Health Center in Harlingen, at the Laredo Regional Campus, and at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Mr. Klay’s presentation focused on the practice of storytelling in war and on readings from Redeployment. The author shared selections from two of his short stories, Ten Kliks South and Bodies, and related how his experiences led him to write fictional accounts of members of the military as they struggle with the challenges of war and the readjustments of returning home. He also answered questions from the audience about how these communal stories of war encourage open dialogue about the meaningful issues they raise. A reception and book signing followed the engaging presentation, as enthusiastic attendees lined up to speak with the author and to have their books autographed.
Photograph by Lester Rosebrock UTHSCSA Creative Media Services
Book discussion groups were held both leading up to and following the author’s presentation. Attendees examined the stories in the book, explored the various points of view, and sought to develop compassion for the veterans whom they encounter. Sixty individuals participated in book discussion groups, including UTHSCSA faculty, students, and staff, a psychiatric and mental health nursing clinical group, military health psychology students at UTSA, members of the Department of Research at the South Texas Veterans Health Care System, and an area women’s writers’ group.
On November 19, 2014, Redeployment by Phil Klay was awarded the prestigious 2014 National Book Award in Fiction (Video of the Announcement and Acceptance Speech). The National Book Foundation also named Phil Klay as one of 5 under 35, a set of five emerging young writers of fiction selected by previous National Book Award winners and finalists.
One Community/One Book is a project of The Libraries and the Center for Medical Humanities & Ethics, with support from STRONG STAR. This program was made possible in part with a grant from Humanities Texas, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.