Join Omar El Akkad (author of Square Books bestseller American War) and Elena Passarello Tuesday, August 3rd at 5:30 pm CT for a conversation in celebration of Omar's "beautifully written, unrelentingly dramatic, and profoundly moving" new novel What Strange Paradise.
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A story that looks at the global refugee crisis through the eyes of a child.
"It is one thing to put a human face on a migrant crisis and another to do so in so compelling a way that a reader simply cannot put your book down. --Gish Jen, author of The Resisters
More bodies have washed up on the shores of a small island. Another overfilled, ill-equipped, dilapidated ship has sunk under the weight of its too many passengers: Syrians, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians, all of them desperate to escape untenable lives back in their homelands. But miraculously, someone has survived the passage: nine-year-old Amir, a Syrian boy who is soon rescued by V nna. V nna is a teenage girl, who, despite being native to the island, experiences her own sense of homelessness in a place and among people she has come to disdain. And though V nna and Amir are complete strangers, though they don't speak a common language, V nna is determined to do whatever it takes to save the boy.
In alternating chapters, we learn about Amir's life and how he came to be on the boat, and we follow him and the girl as they make their way toward safety. What Strange Paradise is the story of two children finding their way through a hostile world. But it is also a story of empathy and indifference, of hope and despair--and about the way each of those things can blind us to reality.
About the Author
Omar El Akkad was born in Cairo, Egypt and grew up in Doha, Qatar until he moved to Canada with his family. He is an award-winning journalist and author who has traveled around the world to cover many of the most important news stories of the last decade. His reporting includes dispatches from the NATO-led war in Afghanistan, the military trials at Guantànamo Bay, the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt and the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Missouri. He is a recipient of Canada's National Newspaper Award for investigative reporting and the Goff Penny Memorial Prize for Young Canadian Journalists, as well as three National Magazine Award honorable mentions. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
About the Host
Essayist and performer Elena Passarello is the author of Let Me Clear My Throat and Animals Strike Poses, which was a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice. Her most recent essays appeared in Audubon, McSweeney’s, National Geographic, and Paris Review. You can hear her weekly on the PRX radio variety program Live Wire!
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A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR • From the widely acclaimed, bestselling author of American War—a beautifully written, unrelentingly dramatic, and profoundly moving novel that looks at the global refugee crisis through the eyes of a child.