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American War

A novel

By Omar El Akkad
Narrated by Dion Graham / 12 hours 21 minutes
Bookseller Recommendation

“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.”

SubText Bookstore image Matt Keliher, SubText Bookstore

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.

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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

“Omar El Akkad has created an American future that is both terrifying and plausible. In a world seared and flooded by global warming, the U.S. has fractured again into North and South. The barbarism that ensues is all the more awful because we know the rivers and the cities. And we know these people: they are our neighbors; they are us. Through the eyes of a young girl El Akkad lets us see the soul-crushing toll of war. It was only in the stunned minutes after I’d finished the novel that I realized he had also taught us how to make a consummate terrorist.”

Peter Heller, author of The Dog Stars and

“Omar El Akkad’s urgent debut transmutes our society’s current dysfunction into a terrifying yet eerily recognizable future, where contemporary global and local conflicts have wreaked havoc on American soil. The threads between today and that future are his masterfully shaped characters. Their resilience, savagery, and humanity serve both as a portrait of who we are but also what we might very well become.”

Elliot Ackerman, author of Dark at the Crossing

Reviews

“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. Across these scarred pages rages the clash that many of us are anxiously speculating about in the Drumpf era: a nation riven by irreconcilable ideologies, alienated by entrenched suspicions. . . . both poignant and horrifying.”

Ron Charles, The Washington Post

“El Akkad . . . has an innate (and depressingly timely) feel for the textural details of dystopia; if only his grim near-future fantasy didn’t feel so much like a crystal ball.”

Leah Greenblat, Entertainment Weekly

“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, The New York Times Book Review

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.


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Author
Narrator Dion Graham
ISBN 9781524779801
Length 12 hours 21 minutes
Language English
Publisher Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication Date
Abridged No
 
Sarat thought about how easy it would be to fix the mistake, to simply redraw the stars properly. But she knew that even broken history is history. The stars, cast wrong, must remain that way. It would be more wrong to change them. Rage wrapped itself around her like a tourniquet, keeping her alive even as it condemned a part of her to atrophy. Unlike the river and the bush and the beasts and birds of the natural world, the lipstick did not interest her; it held no promise of adventure. This country has a long history of defining its generations by the conflicts that should have killed them. You fight the war with guns, you fight the peace with stories.

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