Writers & Books named “American War” by Omar El Akkad as its selection for the 2019 Rochester Reads program.
El Akkad will be in residence for readings, book signings and other appearances at libraries, colleges and senior centers in Greater Rochester on March 26-29, 2019.
“American War” is a fictional novel about a second U.S. Civil War in the late 21st century. After climate change led to political upheaval and a decimation of the population, a plague is unleashed and further devastates the country’s population. One family is caught in the middle of the divided regions and conflicted alliances, and the effects of this fractured country on a young girl has consequences for generations.
The protagonist of “American War,” Sarat Chestnut, is 6 years old when the Second
American Civil War breaks out in 2074. Fossil fuels are outlawed, half the coastal areas of the U.S. are under water and drones are common sights in the sky above. After her father is killed, Sarat and her family are forced into a camp for displaced persons. It is in Camp Patience where Sarat is befriended by a mysterious older man and turned into a weapon of war herself.
This narrative asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself. It is a story of ruin, revenge, division, but also a lesson in empathy and the ties that can either bind or break people.
El Akkad was born in Cairo, and grew up in Doha, Qatar, before moving to Canada with his family. As a reporter, he covered many important global stories of the last decade, including the NATO-led war in Afghanistan, military trials at Guatanamo Bay, Arab Spring revolution in Egypt and Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
A graduate of Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Omar received Canada’s National Newspaper Award for investigative reporting for his coverage of the “Toronto 18” terrorism arrests. He won the Edward Goff Penny Memorial Prize for young Canadian journalists, and was nominated for several Canadian National Magazine Awards. His first novel, “American War,” was a New York Times notable book; listed as one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, GQ, Esquire, The Guardian, The Austin Chronicle, PopSugar and Paste Magazine; and shortlisted for the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
Copies of “American War” are on sale at Writers & Books, 740 University Ave., Rochester, for $10 through July 31.