2024 Festival:
October 21–27
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What Strange Paradise: Omar El Akkad in Conversation with Mark Medley


Omar El Akkad’s masterpiece, American War, captivated readers with its eerie possibility; the brutality of war in the near future when the United States is once again divided in bloodshed, this time about fossil fuels. His follow up, What Strange Paradise, is equally prescient: 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 New York Times has said it “deserves to be an instant classic.” El Akkad’s writing is both fortune-telling dystopia and precise cultural criticism; a necessary writer who probes our humanity. He speaks with Globe and Mail editor, Mark Medley, about his work and the future.

Participants and Speakers

Omar El Akkad

OMAR EL AKKAD is an author and a journalist who has won Canada’s National Newspaper Award for Investigative Journalism. His debut novel, American War, won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, the Oregon Book Award for fiction, and the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize. It was listed as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, GQ, NPR, and Esquire, and for BBC’s 100 Novels That Shaped Our World. (UNITED STATES)

Mark Medley

MARK MEDLEY is Deputy Editor of the Globe and Mail’s Opinion section. He previously served as Books Editor of both The Globe and Mail and the National Post. His work has appeared in publications across the country, including Toronto Life and The Walrus, and his first book, The Believers, is forthcoming from McClelland & Stewart.