OMAR EL AKKAD
A still-young year that’s seen Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Refugees, Mohsin Hamid’s Exit West, and Lidia Yuknavitch’s The Book of Joan (see this Wednesday night, April 19) appear as timely books of fiction, now sees debut novelist Omar El Akkad and his harrowing, incendiary book, American War (Knopf), join their ranks. Omar El Akkad, an Egypt-born Canadian journalist now living in Portland, has posited a future that looks damningly as if it could come from our present.
“Omar El Akkad has created an American future that is both terrifying and plausible. In a world seared and flooded by global warming, the U.S. has fractured again into North and South. The barbarism that ensues is all the more awful because we know the rivers and the cities. And we know these people: they are our neighbors; they are us. Through the eyes of a young girl El Akkad lets us see the soul-crushing toll of war. It was only in the stunned minutes after I’d finished the novel that I realized he had also taught us how to make a consummate terrorist.” --Peter Heller.
“Omar El Akkad’s urgent debut transmutes our society’s current dysfunction into a terrifying yet eerily recognizable future, where contemporary global and local conflicts have wreaked havoc on American soil. The threads between today and that future are his masterfully shaped characters. Their resilience, savagery, and humanity serve both as a portrait of who we are but also what we might very well become.” --Elliot Ackerman.