What strange paradise

by El Akkad, Omar, 1982-

Format: Print Book 2021
Availability: Available at 28 Libraries 70 of 91 copies
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Summary
From the widely acclaimed, best-selling author of American War, a new novel--beautifully written, unrelentingly dramatic, and profoundly moving--that looks at the global refugee crisis through the eyes of a child.

"It is one thing to put a human face on a migrant crisis and another to do so in so compelling a way that a reader simply cannot put your book down." --Gish Jen, author of The Resisters


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.
Published Reviews
Booklist Review: "Eight-year-old Amir Utu has recently moved to Egypt from war-torn Syria, after his family sold everything to gain passage. But when Amir's uncle mysteriously boards a ramshackle boat in the dark of night, the boy follows. He's bound for the Greek island of Kos, the only one in his boat who will survive the trip. And it's hardly paradise once he lands. A retired colonel, bent on chasing down refugees, sets his sights on poor Amir. Fortunately, the boy finds an ally in teen Vänna Hermes. Through another kind soul on the island, the kids now have a new mission: keep Amir safe for two days until he can get on a ferry to the mainland. El Akkad, author of the international best-seller, American War (2017), expertly contrasts the well-paced story of Amir's predicament with the ill-fated voyage that brought him to Greece. The ragtag bunch of strangers on the boat forms an incredibly well-drawn portrait of humanity as everyone bonds together initially, even with dollops of humor thrown in, but "somewhere along the journey they'd passed the point where human goodness gave way to the calculus of survival." A suspenseful and heartbreaking painting of the refugee crisis as experienced by two children caught in the crosshairs."
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Publisher's Weekly Review: "Akkad (American War) delivers a stirring if straightforward account of a young boy's flight from Syria during the country's civil war. Amir Utu sets out for Egypt with his mother, uncle/stepfather Younis, and baby stepbrother. When Younis boards a ferryboat overloaded with migrants, Amir follows him and ends up on a disastrous journey across the Mediterranean, of which he is the sole survivor. The details of what went wrong emerge gradually: first, Amir flees from soldiers on an unnamed island's beach. He is then found by disaffected 15-year-old Vänna Hermes, who helps him evade detention. Here, Akkad explores a world in which migrants routinely wash up dead on the beach and are viewed as an inconvenience for wealthy tourists. The chapters alternate between the "Before" and "After" of Amir's arrival on the island, chronicling the characters and challenges Amir faces on the boat and on land, and depicting the injustice, intolerance, and violence that refugees face in a hostile global landscape. The result is a moving if somewhat predictable story of survival and the need for compassion and camaraderie across languages, cultures, religions, and borders. While readers may find themselves wishing for more complexity, there is plenty of moral clarity. Agent: Anne McDermid, CookeMcDermid. (July)"
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Additional Information
Subjects Refugees -- Fiction.
Emigration and immigration -- Fiction.
Children -- Fiction.
Islands -- Fiction.
Social problem fiction.
Publisher New York :2021
Edition First edition.
Language English
Description 235 pages ; 20 cm
ISBN 9780525657903
0525657908
Other Classic View