"In this very uncertain space"

A Conversation with Omar El Akkad


  • Y-Dang Troeung University of British Columbia
  • Phanuel Antwi University of British Columbia




As a journalist for The Globe and Mail for 10 years, El Akkad has reported on war and conflict from around the world, including the war in Afghanistan, the military trials at Guantanamo Bay, the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt, and the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Missouri. In 2018, El Akkad's debut novel, American War, was shortlisted for a number of prominent literary prizes, garnering public attention as a finalist on the CBC Canada Reads competition. In this conversation, we talk to El Akkad about his novel, journalism, literary influences, migrations, and political visions of the future. One recurring theme in the conversation is the relationship between violence and the production of uncertainty—the unpredictability movement and refuge for the displaced; the ambiguity and risks of racial representation; the secrecy of detention and redaction; and the uncertainties of the future in times of change and crisis.