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What Strange Paradise - Omar El Akkad

What Strange Paradise - Omar El Akkad

Title: What Strange Paradise

Signed first edition, first printing

Author:  Omar El Akkad

ISBN:  9781529069471

Weight:  710 g



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What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad

From the widely acclaimed author of American War, Omar El Akkad, a beautifully written, unrelentingly dramatic and profoundly moving novel that brings the global refugee crisis down to the level of a child’s eyes.

More bodies have washed up on the shores of a small island.  Another over-filled, ill-equipped, dilapidated ship has sunk under the weight of its too-many passengers: Syrians, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians, all of them desperate to escape untenable lives in their homelands.  And only one had made the passage: nine-year-old Amir, a Syrian boy who has the good fortune to fall into the hands not of the officials, but of Vänna: a teenage girl, native to the island, who lives inside her own sense of homelessness in a place and among people she has come to disdain.  And though Vänna and Amir are complete strangers and don’t speak a common language, Vänna determines to do whatever it takes to save him.

In alternating chapters, we learn the story of Amir’s life and of how he came to be on the boat; and we follow the duo as they make their way towards a vision of safety.  But as the novel unfurls, we begin to understand that this is not merely the story of two children finding their way through a hostile world.  Omar El Akkad’s What Strange Paradise is the story of our collective moment in this time: of empathy and indifference, of hope and despair – and of the way each of those things can blind us to reality, or guide us to a better one.

Peer & Press Reviews

What Strange Paradise is by turns tender and brutal in its truths.  It is tremendously written, propulsive as it is expansive as it is granular in its specificities.  Here we get the wondrousness of children set in sharp relief against a backdrop of the all too common dehumanization then dismissal of refugees everywhere.  The book devastates and uplifts, somehow, and we are not left with hope – that isn’t the point – but asked to witness, to see what is here, with clarity, and with fullness of heart.

Tommy Orange, author of There There

Riveting…  Nothing I’ve read before has given me such a visceral sense of the grisly predicament confronted by millions of people expelled from their homes by conflict and climate change.

Washington Post

It is one thing to put a human face on a migrant crisis and another to do so in so compelling a way that a reader simply cannot put your [sic] book down.  I read this in one sitting, my heart pounding the whole way – in a strange paradise, you might say.  Marvelous.

Gish Jen, author of The Resistors

Bibliographic Info

TitleWhat Strange Paradise
Book Features
Edition / printingFirst edition, first printing
Overall conditionFine / Fine (see our article on Condition Grades)
SignedOn a signature page, tipped-in before the title page.
(Printed on this page is the title and the phrase ‘Signed by the author’.)
Book Stats
PublisherPan Macmillan
Publication date
Printed byCPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon
ISBN 139781529069471
FormatHardcover with dust jacket
Size (h x w x d)223 x 143 x 22mm
Image and Design Credits
Author photographKateshia Pendergrass
Jacket imageSalty Wings (sea)

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