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'[American War] creates as haunting a post-apocalyptic universe as Cormac McCarthy did in The Road, and as devastating a look at the fallout that national events have on an American family as Philip Roth did in The Plot Against America . . . El Akkad has written a novel that not only maps the harrowing effects of violence on one woman and her family, but also becomes a disturbing parable about the ruinous consequences of war on ordinary civilians.' Michiko Kakutani, New York Times
American War is an extraordinary novel. El Akkad’s story of a family caught up in the collapse of an empire is as harrowing as it is brilliant, and has an air of terrible relevance in these partisan times. (Emily St. John Mandel, author of Station Eleven)
Disturbingly plausible . . . a tale of a future America torn asunder by its own political and tribal affiliations . . . The novel’s thriller premise notwithstanding, Akkad applies a literary writer’s care to his depiction of Sarat’s psychological unpacking and the sensory details of her life . . . Whether read as a cautionary tale of partisanship run amok, an allegory of past conflicts or a study of the psychology of war, American War is a deeply unsettling novel. The only comfort the story offers is that it’s a work of fiction. For the time being, anyway. (Justin Cronin New York Times)
American War is the most impressive new novel I’ve read this year. Set in a scarily plausible future scarred by civil strife and climate change, it’s thrilling for the sheer transporting force of its storytelling. Its lasting power, though, lies in its complex account of moral disintegration, both individual and societal. (Garth Greenwell, 'Best holiday reads 2017' Guardian)
Sarat Chestnut, born in Louisiana, is only six when the Second American Civil War breaks out in 2074. But even she knows that oil is outlawed, that Louisiana is half underwater, that unmanned drones fill the sky. And when her father is killed and her family is forced into Camp Patience for displaced persons, she quickly begins to be shaped by her particular time and place until, finally, through the influence of a mysterious functionary, she is turned into a deadly instrument of war. Telling her story is her nephew, Benjamin Chestnut, born during war – part of the Miraculous Generation – now an old man confronting the dark secret of his past, his family’s role in the conflict and, in particular, that of his aunt, a woman who saved his life while destroying untold others.