Omar El Akkad won the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize for his novel What Strange Paradise, a devastating yet beautiful story of two children against the backdrop of the refugee crisis, and the dehumanization of those who must flee home. The jury wrote: “Amid all the anger and confusion surrounding the global refugee crisis, Omar El Akkad’s What Strange Paradise paints a portrait of displacement and belonging that is at once unflinching and tender. In examining the confluence of war, migration and a sense of settlement, it raises questions of indifference and powerlessness and, ultimately, offers clues as to how we might reach out empathetically in a divided world.” El Akkad’s writing is both fortune-telling dystopia and precise cultural criticism; a necessary writer who probes our humanity. He spoke with Globe and Mail editor, Mark Medley, at the 2021 Vancouver Writers Fest.