Omar El Akkad to Discuss His New Novel About the Global Refugee Crisis via Zoom

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Omar El Akkad, author of WHAT STRANGE PARADISE (Knopf), will discuss his new novel with Soho Press author Roy Scranton at a virtual event hosted by Powell’s City of Books (Portland, OR) via Zoom on Tuesday, July 20 at 8:00 pm (ET). To register, click here.

From the widely acclaimed, bestselling author of AMERICAN WAR, comes a new novel, WHAT STRANGE PARADISE, that looks at the global refugee crisis through the eyes of a child. 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 Vänna. Vänna 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 Vänna and Amir are complete strangers, though they don’t speak a common language, Vänna is determined to do whatever it takes to save the boy.

At its heart, WHAT STRANGE PARADISE is a story of empathy and indifference, of hope and despair—and about the way each of those things can blind us to reality.

Omar El Akkad is an author and a decorated journalist. His debut novel, AMERICAN WAR, is an international bestseller and has been translated into thirteen languages. It won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, the Oregon Book Award for fiction, and the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, and has been nominated for more than ten other awards. It has been listed as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, GQ, NPR, and Esquire, and was selected by the BBC as one of 100 Novels That Shaped Our World.

Roy Scranton is the author of I ♥ OKLAHOMA!, WE’RE DOOMED. Now What?, and WAR PORN. He has written for The New York Times, Rolling Stone, The Nation, the New Republic, The Baffler, Yale Review, Emergence, Boston Review, and elsewhere, and he co-edited What Future: The Year’s Best Ideas to Reclaim, Reanimate & Reinvent Our Future and Fire and Forget: Short Stories from the Long War. Dr. Scranton is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Notre Dame, where he teaches creative writing and environmental humanities and serves as director of the Notre Dame Environmental Humanities Initiative.

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Posted: July 19, 2021