BABEL Reading Group: WHAT STRANGE PARADISE by Omar El Akkad
Join Just Buffalo Literary Center for a lively book discussion of Omar El Akkad’s novel What Strange Paradise. The discussion will be led by Barish Ali, Associate Professor of English at SUNY Buffalo State and recipient of Buffalo State’s Muriel A. Howard Award for the Promotion of Equity and Campus Diversity for his advancement of Middle Eastern studies on campus, as well as the President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching.
BABEL Reading Groups are virtual via Zoom and limited to 15 participants, so please register in advance!
We hope you will also join us for BABEL with writer & journalist Omar El Akkad on Thursday, November 10th.
About the Book
WHAT STRANGE PARADISE
A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR • From the widely acclaimed, bestselling author of American War—a beautifully written, unrelentingly dramatic, and profoundly moving novel that looks at the global refugee crisis through the eyes of a child.
“Told from the point of view of two children, on the ground and at sea, the story so astutely unpacks the us-versus-them dynamics of our divided world that it deserves to be an instant classic.” —The New York Times Book Review
More bodies have washed up on the shores of a small island. Another overfilled, 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 back in their homelands. But miraculously, someone has survived the passage: nine-year-old Amir, a Syrian boy who is soon rescued by Vänna. Vänna is a teenage girl, who, despite being native to the island, experiences her own sense of homelessness in a place and among people she has come to disdain. And though Vänna and Amir are complete strangers, though they don’t speak a common language, Vänna is determined to do whatever it takes to save the boy.
In alternating chapters, we learn about Amir’s life and how he came to be on the boat, and we follow him and the girl as they make their way toward safety. What Strange Paradise is the story of two children finding their way through a hostile world. But it is also a story of empathy and indifference, of hope and despair—and about the way each of those things can blind us to reality.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.