This book has rendered me almost speechless. I immediately fell into the story; El Akkad's writing is electric and thirst-quenching, and the narrative itself pulls you along with it until you are no longer able to differentiate your own thoughts from those of the narrator. Set in the future, near the end of the 21st century, American War tells the story of the second American civil war, through the life and experiences of Sarat Chestnut, a woman who comes of age within that divisive and violent climate. El Akkad crafts a story that is horrifically terrifying, heart wrenching, and lovely. This is a timely novel that has the potential to instill within its' audience a sense of foresight and understanding that we're all desperate for.
“Omar El Akkad has delivered a stunning debut. He imagines a world in a not-too-distant future where Americans are at war with each other once again. The characters in this story are fully developed and individual, yet their histories - their stories - extend into the histories of all those displaced and affected by the forces of war. The title, American War, is a shape-shifter. At once, it means that America is again at war, but at times reflects the ways in which the true, actual wars that America has perpetrated on Earth have affected the lives of millions of people. This will be one of the most discussed books of the year, and I cannot wait to put it in the hands of all readers looking to be changed.”
— Matt Keliher (E), SubText: A Bookstore, St. Paul, MN
"Powerful . . . As haunting a postapocalyptic universe as Cormac McCarthy created] in The Road, and as devastating a look as the fallout that national events have on an American family as Philip Roth did in The Plot Against America. . . . Omar El Akkad's debut novel, American War, is an unlikely mash-up of unsparing war reporting and plot elements familiar to readers of the recent young-adult dystopian series The Hunger Games and Divergent." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times An audacious and powerful debut novel: a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle--a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself. Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, and that unmanned drones fill the sky. When her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she begins to grow up shaped by her particular time and place. But not everyone at Camp Patience is who they claim to be. Eventually Sarat is befriended by a mysterious functionary, under whose influence she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. The decisions that she makes will have tremendous consequences not just for Sarat but for her family and her country, rippling through generations of strangers and kin alike.
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 Guantanamo 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.
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