#11 in our new feature that offers up staff-selected recommendations for your consideration.
An appreciation for distopian fiction seems to be on the rise these days… I wonder why…. Oh, never mind that…
But do consider Omar El Akkad’s debut novel, “American War,” which is an unlikely mash-up of unsparing war reporting and plot elements familiar to readers of the recent young-adult dystopian series “The Hunger Games” and “Divergent.” From these incongruous ingredients, El Akkad has fashioned a surprisingly powerful, engaging and readable novel — one that creates as haunting a postapocalyptic universe as Cormac McCarthy did in “The Road” (2006), and as devastating a look at the fallout that national events have on an American family as Philip Roth did in “The Plot Against America” (2004).
Set in the closing decades of the 21st century and the opening ones of the 22nd, El Akkad’s novel recounts what happened during the Second American Civil War between the North and South and its catastrophic aftermath. It is a story that extrapolates the deep, partisan divisions that already plague American politics and looks at where those widening splits could lead. A story that maps the palpable consequences for the world of accelerating climate change and an unraveling United States. A story that imagines what might happen if the terrifying realities of today’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — drone strikes, torture, suicide bombers — were to come home to America.
A highly compelling, somewhat disturbingly real read that makes you frame and consider the headlines of today in new ways. Highly recommended.