What happens to a world, a nation, a society constantly engaged in forever-war? It is an enormous question that Klay understands can be answered only by engaging the lives of individuals, and especially the forgotten ones: a war correspondent in search of a better war; a military general’s daughter looking to bring justice to the world; a former army medic-turned U.S.-Colombian military liaison; a poor, rural-born Colombian roped into a civil war after it decimates his family and home.
Klay’s intimate portraits all come together in a parallel narrative in a remote region on the Colombian-Venezuelan border. It is an urgent and suspenseful final sequence, but the convergence is not simply a plot device: It is a stake in the ground that claims there is no such thing as an isolated war or violent action. In this way, Klay’s work can be seen as a companion novel to Pope Francis’ encyclical “Fratelli Tutti,” also released last year. Francis noted that “with increased globalization, what might appear as an immediate or practical solution for one part of the world initiates a chain of violent and often latent effects that end up harming the entire planet and opening the way to new and worse wars in the future.” The result, he wrote, is a “world war fought piecemeal.”
To say that all violence and warfare is connected is not just a foreign policy claim—it is a moral one. The work of literature is the same as that of religion in this area: to remind us that we are all our brothers’ keepers, and to show what happens when we fail. For a number of the characters in Missionaries, their encounters with violence function as a sort of baptism that leaves another kind of indelible mark on their souls.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor