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Published on March 13, 2018 9:39AM

A nightmarish vision of America torn apart by civil war will fill Manzanita’s Hoffman Center for the Arts this Saturday, March 17, when Omar El Akkad reads from his debut novel.

El Akkad’s dystopian “American War” begins in 2075 during the second American Civil War, with Red and Blue states clashing over the need for sustainable energy. Set in a land ravaged by global warming, this ambitious debut encourages Western readers to put themselves in the shoes of the world’s displaced peoples.

For 10 years El Akkad has led a double life, working as an international war reporter for Canada’s The Globe and Mail while writing fiction between midnight and 5 am. “American War” is the fourth novel produced under this grueling schedule and the first to be published.

As a reporter, El Akkad covered the war in Afghanistan, military trials at Guantánamo Bay, the Arab Spring protests in Egypt, the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Missouri, and the effects of climate change in places like Florida and Louisiana.

“A lot of the world of the book is based on the things I saw while on those assignments,” El Akkad says. “I like to say that a lot of what happened in this book happened; it just happened to people far away.”

A graduate of Queen’s University, El Akkad is a recipient of the National Newspaper Award for investigative reporting for his coverage on the “Toronto 18” terrorism arrests. He has also received the Goff Penny Memorial Prize for Young Journalists, as well as three National Magazine Award honorable mentions.

El Akkad’s reading will start at 7 pm and will be followed by a Q&A and an open mic where up to nine writers will read five minutes of their original work, with the optional theme of “revenge.”

The Hoffman Center is located at 594 Laneda Avenue. Admission is $7.

For more information go to hoffmanblog.org or e-mail Kathie Hightower at kathiejhightower@gmail.com.

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