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American War
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2019 books > May 2019 - American War

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message 1: by Z. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Z. F. (zee_eff) Our May Genre Blender selection is Omar El Akkad's American War, another recent publication which takes a climate change-induced crisis as the starting point for its depiction of a future apocalypse. This one takes place in 2074, and follows its young protagonist Sarat Chestnut as she navigates a waterlogged version of America embroiled in a second Civil War: this time with the South seceding as the result of a ban on fossil fuels.

It should be interesting to compare and contrast this vision of an overheated America with the one we just read, and I'm sure it will inspire some great discussion here. Feel free to share you thoughts when you have them!


message 2: by Lucy (new)

Lucy (lucy47) | 137 comments I'm just past halfway thru, and think it a much better conceived and realized dystopian America than that in Erdrich's "Future Home...".
So painfully believable a picture of the U.S. disastrously impacted by its leaders' policies & actions and its citizens' prejudices and virulently opposed ideologies. Just as people around the world have suffered from our nation-building, military interventions, and supposedly humanitarian actions tainted by self-interest.


message 3: by Z. (last edited May 08, 2019 03:56PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Z. F. (zee_eff) Lucy wrote: "I'm just past halfway thru, and think it a much better conceived and realized dystopian America than that in Erdrich's "Future Home...".
So painfully believable a picture of the U.S. disastrously ..."


I'm only at about 15 or 20%, but I agree that El Akkad's world-building is one of the book's strongest attributes. It's not hard to tell that the author was a war correspondent prior to writing this novel--there's a texture to it that would be difficult to fake.


Geoffrey Nutting | 107 comments Patience sounds like a dream-come-true for people in refugee camps today.


message 5: by Lucy (new)

Lucy (lucy47) | 137 comments Finished the bk last Fri, and have been thinking of it ever since. Though it's El Akkad's debut in fiction, it seems to me very well-written and not prone to the overuse of similes and consciously "literary" language that so many first novels exhibit. When he does use a simile it's particularly apt, as in this example on the bottom of pg 333, when Benjamin has crept into the shed to observe Sarat: ..."She was still sleeping, her frame curled into something like a question mark upon a space in the floor where there was no floor -- as though the very foundations of the shed had backed away from her quietly in the night...". Another thing that struck me about the novel is El Akkad's remarkable grasp (for an Egyptian-born, Canadian journalist) of American history, and of our cultural & ideological differences. He also obviously has studied and perhaps interviewed survivors of modern methods of torture as used in Iranian, Iraqi and other prisons (and at Guantanamo?). Sarat's suffering is so vividly described as almost to defy reading, or having done so, ever being able to forget.
To quote from the Wash. Post's review: "El Akkad never apologizes for Sarat's acts of retribution, but he draws us into the murky moral realm of her justice, a place plowed by murder and seeded by torture." And: "[he] re-creates the rhetoric of factional righteousness, the self-validating claims of the aggrieved that keep every war fueled. He shows us the North only through the fog of its bungling brutality and pompous pronouncements. The South, as before, enjoys the advantage of nostalgic purity, and ... engineers the terms of peace to preserve the fantasy of their own unspoiled honor."
I didn't expect to like this book, or even to be able to finish it, but I think it may be the best we've read this year.


message 6: by Lucy (new)

Lucy (lucy47) | 137 comments I am very sad to admit that I won't be at Wednesday's book group, especially as this should be a very lively discussion. I was given a ticket to a Wed. pm concert in Kirkwood of the Univ of Michigan Men's Glee Club, which I can't pass up. That's my alma mater, the Glee Club has my godson as a frequent guest conductor, and they are wonderful. So, Zack and all, please forgive my absence, I will certainly be thinking of you.


message 7: by Lucy (new)

Lucy (lucy47) | 137 comments Oops, forgot to add that I remembered that this is my month to provide treats, and I will be dropping them off at Schlafly early Wednesday afternoon.


message 8: by Z. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Z. F. (zee_eff) Lucy wrote: "I am very sad to admit that I won't be at Wednesday's book group, especially as this should be a very lively discussion. I was given a ticket to a Wed. pm concert in Kirkwood of the Univ of Michiga..."

Lucy - sorry for not getting back to you sooner. Your insight certainly be missed tonight, but thanks for the early heads-up and the snacks! Enjoy you concert, and we'll look forward to having you back in June!


Geoffrey Nutting | 107 comments My review at:
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

(let me know if this doesn't get you there).


message 10: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne | 55 comments I’m sorry I missed—multiple kid activities and not enough parents. I’m also only a quarter in but enjoying it so far. I’ll post thoughts when I finish.


message 11: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne | 55 comments Just finished and realllllly enjoyed it. I liked the world building and character depth as well as the multiple threads coming together. Also...everyone is terrible! Yay! Great pick.


message 12: by Lucy (new)

Lucy (lucy47) | 137 comments I thought you would like it! But not everyone is terrible -- Benjamin is a very believable little boy, entranced with his so-strange aunt (I loved the scene after the fall breaks his arm. He wakes up to find Sarat has splinted it, and thinks it is a permanent prosthesis). And even the slippery old dude who recruits Sarat (his name?) has slight justification, if we can believe that his family was threatened. Indelible characters in a story I will never forget.


message 13: by Z. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Z. F. (zee_eff) Anne wrote: "Just finished and realllllly enjoyed it. I liked the world building and character depth as well as the multiple threads coming together. Also...everyone is terrible! Yay! Great pick."

So glad you liked it, Anne! Owing to a perfect storm of prior obligations, our in-person discussion was only three people (one of whom hadn't read the book). Too bad, because this novel was made to be conversed about.


message 14: by Lucy (new)

Lucy (lucy47) | 137 comments Zach, I feel very guilty about missing the discussion last week. We have really let you down!


message 15: by Z. (new) - rated it 3 stars

Z. F. (zee_eff) Lucy wrote: "Zach, I feel very guilty about missing the discussion last week. We have really let you down!"

Not a letdown, life happens! As long as we have a good-sized group in June I won't have to resort to threats :P


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