Canada Reads 2018

American War

American War is Omar El Akkad's debut novel.

Omar El Akkad

American War by Omar El Akkad is being defended by Tahmoh Penikett on Canada Reads 2018.

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, that unmanned drones fill the sky.

And when her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she quickly begins to be shaped by her particular time and place until, finally, through the influence of a mysterious functionary, she is turned into a deadly instrument of war.

Telling her story is her nephew, Benjamin Chestnut, born during war as one of the Miraculous Generation and now an old man confronting the dark secret of his past — his family's role in the conflict and, in particular, that of his aunt, a woman who saved his life while destroying untold others. (From McClelland & Stewart)

Watch the book trailer

Canada Reads trailer for Omar El Akkad's American War. 0:47

From the book

The sun broke through a pilgrimage of clouds and cast its unblinking eye upon the Mississippi Sea. 

The coastal waters were brown and still. the sea's mouth opened wide over ruined marshland, and every year grew wider, the water picking away at the silt and sand and clay, until the old riverside plantations and plastics factories and marine railways became unstable. Before the buildings slid into the water for good, they were stripped of their usable parts by the delta's last holdout residents. The water swallowed the land. To the southeast, the once glorious city of New Orleans became a well within the walls of its levees. The baptismal rights of a new America. 

From American War by Omar El Akkad ©2017. Published by McClelland & Stewart. 

Panellist interviews

The Canada Reads defenders and authors took the stage in Toronto to discuss the five books that will be championed on CBC's battle of the books from March 26-29, 2018. Here and Now's Gill Deacon hosted the event in the Glenn Gould Studio. 1:07:45
This morning is a big day for books in Canada — it's the day that we get to find out this year's panellists and their book choices for Canada Reads 2018. This year's battle of the books will revolve around the theme "One Book to Open Your Eyes," celebrating titles that challenge readers to look differently at themselves, their neighbours and the world around them. All five of the panellists — Jully Black, Mozhdah Jamalzadah, Tahmoh Penikett, Greg Johnson, Jeanne Beker — join guest host Laurie Brown in the q studio to reveal their choices for the book they think all Canadians should read. 14:24

Author interviews

The former Globe foreign correspondent on his debut novel, set in a future America devastated by war and plague. 3:54

The Canada Reads 2018 contenders