Omar El Akkad

Cihttp://www.citylights.com/Resources/titles/87286100381190/Images/87286100381190L.jpgty Lights welcomes Omar El Akkad in conversation with Micheline Aharonian Marcom to discuss & read from his acclaimed new novel, American War, published by Knopf.

http://www.citylights.com/html/WYSIWYGfiles/images/Omar%20El%20Akkad_credit%20Michael%20Lionstar.jpegAn audacious and powerful debut novel. a second American Civil War, a devastating plague, and one family caught deep in the middle—a story that asks what might happen if America were to turn its most devastating policies and deadly weapons upon itself.

Omar El Akkad, formerly of the Globe and Mail, is an award-winning journalist and author who has travelled around the world to cover many of the most important news stories of the last decade. His reporting includes dispatches from the NATO-led war in Egypt and the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Missouri. He 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 honourable mentions. He is a graduate of Queen’s University.

Micheline Aharonian Marcom  is the author of five books including the critically acclaimed trilogy of novels: Three Apples Fell from Heaven (2001), The Daydreaming Boy (2004) which earned her the 2004 Lannan Literary Fellowship as well as the 2005 PEN/USA Award for Fiction, and Draining the Sea (2008). She currently teaches Creative Writing at Mills College and is also on the faculty of the Goddard College MFA in Creative Writing Program.

Ben Marcus in conversation with Daniel Levin Becker

From one of the most innovative and vital writers of his generation, an extraordinary collection of stories that showcases his gifts—and his range—as never before.

In the hilarious, lacerating “I Can Say Many Nice Things,” a washed-up writer toying with infidelity leads a creative writing workshop on board a cruise ship. In the dystopian “Rollingwood,” a divorced father struggles to take care of his ill infant, as his ex-wife and colleagues try to render him irrelevant. In “Watching Mysteries with My Mother,” a son meditates on his mother’s mortality, hoping to stave off her death for as long as he sits by her side. And in the title story, told in a single breathtaking sentence, we watch as the narrator’s marriage and his sanity unravel, drawing him to the brink of suicide.

As the collection progresses, we move from more traditional narratives into the experimental work that has made Ben Marcus a groundbreaking master of the short form. In these otherworldly landscapes, characters resort to extreme survival strategies to navigate the terrors of adulthood, one opting to live in a lightless cave and another methodically setting out to recover total childhood innocence; an automaton discovers love and has to reinvent language to accommodate it; filial loyalty is seen as a dangerous weakness that must be drilled away; and the distance from a cubicle to the office coffee cart is refigured as an existential wasteland, requiring heroic effort.
In these piercing, brilliantly observed investigations into human vulnerability and failure, it is often the most absurd and alien predicaments that capture the deepest truths. Surreal and tender, terrifying and life-affirming, Leaving the Sea is the work of an utterly unique writer at the height of his powers.