Books·Canada Reads 2018

American War

American War is Omar El Akkad's debut novel.

Omar El Akkad

American War by Omar El Akkad was defended by Tahmoh Penikett on Canada Reads 2018. Forgiveness by Mark Sakamoto, defended by Jeanne Beker, was the winner of 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

American War Trailer

6 years ago
Duration 0:47
Featured VideoCanada Reads trailer for Omar El Akkad's American War.

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

Watch the 2018 Canada Reads panellists & authors in conversation with Gill Deacon

6 years ago
Duration 1:07:45
Featured VideoThe 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.
Featured VideoOmar El Akkad talks to Chris dela Torre about his Canada Reads shortlisted novel, American War.
Featured VideoOmar El Akkad on his Canada Reads contender, a novel set 50 years in the future in an America devastated by civil war and global warming.

Author interviews

The Canada Reads 2018 contenders