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