Omar El Akkad
Winner of the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize for Literary Fiction
Shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize for Fiction and the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Science Fiction Book of the Year.
2074. America’s future is Civil War. Sarat’s reality is survival. They took her father, they took her home, they told her lies . . .
She didn’t start this war, but she’ll end it.
Omar El Akkad’s powerful debut novel imagines a dystopian future: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague and one family caught deep in the middle. In American War, we’re asked to consider what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons against itself.
A plausible, terrifying chronicle of the fracture and subsequent annihilation of the US . . . A thrillingly complex adventure that moves from the American south to Alaska and on to the Middle East and North Africa . . . At its heart and most movingly, the novel also becomes a coming-of-age narrative about how easily a curious child faced with horror and powerlessness can transform into a weapon intent on obliteration. As we learn at the end of the prologue, "This isn't a story about war. It's about ruin."' * The Australian * American War is Omar El Akkad's first novel and it is masterful. Both the story and the writing are lucid, succinct, powerful and persuasive . . . Over the course of the novel, we will discover how the narrator came to know and love Sarat, how he suffered to see her suffer and how he witnessed good and evil do battle for her soul. But, more importantly, we come to reflect once more on the egotism and idiocy of war, and on the millions of people it makes homeless, and on the unfortunate way that those who still have the means to live inside locked homes tend to hate others who show up en masse at their doorstep, shoeless and hungry and desperate. * Toronto Globe and Mail * El Akkad has created a brilliantly well-crafted, profoundly shattering saga of one family's suffering in a world of brutal power struggles, terrorism, ignorance, and vengeance. American War is a gripping, unsparing, and essential novel for dangerously contentious times. * Booklist (starred review) * Omar El Akkad's topically minded tale deals with climate change, drone warfare, refugee crisis and the use of torture . . . Compelling. * SFX * El Akkad's debut novel transports us to a terrifyingly plausible future in which the clash between red states and blue has become deadly . . . Part family chronicle, part apocalyptic fable, American War is a vivid narrative of a country collapsing in on itself, where political loyalties hardly matter given the ferocity of both sides and the unrelenting violence that swallows whole bloodlines and erodes any capacity for mercy or reason. This is a very dark read; El Akkad creates a world all too familiar in its grisly realism. * Publishers' Weekly * In American War, [Omar El Akkad] has crafted a most unusual novel, one featuring a gripping plot and an elegiac narrative tone, but also an oppressively grim vision of a divided, selfdestructive nation that becomes a victim of its darkest impulses and actions. * Boston Globe * Unsettling and horribly plausible * Psychologies Magazine * American War is a worthy first novel, thought-provoking [and] earnest . . . It is at its best depicting the lives of ordinary people caught up in terrible circumstances and how those ordinary people are, in the crosshairs of crisis, forever changes, and how some can become extraordinary or at least affect history. * Los Angeles Times * Follow the tributaries of today's political combat a few decades into the future and you might arrive at something as terrifying as Omar El Akkad's debut novel, American War . . . Poignant and horrifying . . . El Akkad demonstrates a profound understanding of the corrosive culture of civil war, the offenses that give rise to new hypocrisies and mythologies, translating terrorists into martyrs and acts of despair into feats of heroism. * Washington Post * American War is the most impressive new novel I've read this year. Set in a scarily plausible future scarred by civil strife and climate change, it's thrilling for the sheer transporting force of its storytelling. Its lasting power, though, lies in its complex account of moral disintegration, both individual and societal. -- Garth Greenwell, 'Best holiday reads 2017' * Guardian * The comment being made on the Trump administration is impossible to miss in this engaging novel . . . It paints a bleak picture pf the future of humanity if climate change and the divisions of our society are not addressed now. * i * Disturbingly plausible . . . a tale of a future America torn asunder by its own political and tribal affiliations . . . The novel's thriller premise notwithstanding, Akkad applies a literary writer's care to his depiction of Sarat's psychological unpacking and the sensory details of her life . . . Whether read as a cautionary tale of partisanship run amok, an allegory of past conflicts or a study of the psychology of war, American War is a deeply unsettling novel. The only comfort the story offers is that it's a work of fiction. For the time being, anyway. -- Justin Cronin * New York Times * [A] striking debut . . . El Akkad is well equipped to speculate on the way in which our present predicaments might spark brutal conflict: he has seen those conflicts for himself . . . the book's politics and its situations are all too believable. * New Statesman * American War is an extraordinary novel. El Akkad's story of a family caught up in the collapse of an empire is as harrowing as it is brilliant, and has an air of terrible relevance in these partisan times. -- Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven It is an ambitious concept and El Akkad . . . pulls it off in an imaginative feat of world building . . . American War is an assured debut and El Akkad's experience as a war reporter lends a grisly realism to proceedings . . . A vivid and nightmarish vision of an all-too-conceivable future. * Express * Informed by writer El Akkad's experiences working as a journalist in Afghanistan and Egypt's Arab Spring, this is a timely and haunting book that reflects our uncertain era. * Stylist * [An] exciting debut . . . what sets this impressive book apart from other dystopian novels is the fully realised plausibility of the scenario El Akkad's created, the roots of which can be all too easily identified in the world around us today... As diverting a read as this engrossing novel is, American War should no doubt also be read as a cautionary tale. * Independent * Future dystopias always tell us a great deal about our most pressing contemporary anxieties and this is a novel that imagines the cracks currently emerging in US society widening into ravines. -- Alex Preston 'Best Fiction of 2017' * Observer * Terrifying . . . moving . . . Convincing, compelling and very bloody scary. * Metro * America's tortured present lends unsettling believability to American War, the dystopian debut from journalist Omar El Akkad with its late 21st-century picture of a second civil war, fought over fossil fuel in a US devastated by environmental disaster. Brilliantly imagined, it's both a timely tale and a salutary warning. -- Mariella Frostrup, Guardian 'Best Books of 2017' This is an outstanding book - 1984 meets The Handmaid's Tale - that feels closer to reality than it possibly should. * Prima * This is extremely good . . . Basically was hoping for my train to be delayed -- Sarah Perry So sharply observed . . . hard to resist. * Sunday Times * American War creates as haunting a post-apocalyptic universe as Cormac McCarthy did in The Road, and as devastating a look at the fallout that national events have on an American family as Philip Roth did in The Plot Against America. -- Michiko Kakutani * New York Times *
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