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El Akkad wins 2021 Giller Prize for ‘What Strange Paradise’

Omar El Akkad has won the C$100,000 (A$110,000) Giller Prize, Canada’s richest literary award, for his second novel What Strange Paradise (Picador).

El Akkad’s novel depicts the relationship between a nine-year-old Syrian refugee and the teenage girl who finds him washed up on the shore near her home.

Of the winning book, the judging panel 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.’

What Strange Paradise was chosen from a shortlist of five, with each remaining finalist receiving C$10,000 (A$11,000).

El Akkad, who was born Egypt and moved to Canada at the age of 16, is a journalist. His first novel, American War, was published by Picador in 2017.


Category: International news