Nov 10, 2021
A literary star-studded event on Monday night culminated in the big reveal: What Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad wins the 2021 Giller Prize!
A stunned and surprised El Akkad said upon receiving the biggest Canadian literary prize from Elana Rabinovitch, "I've had the incredible honour of being mentioned in the same breath as four outstanding authors, any of whom could be standing up here right now."
The Giller jury wrote of the book: "Amid all the anger and confusion surrounding the global refugee crisis, Omar El Akkad's What Strange Paradise paints a portrait of displacement and belonging that is at once unflinching and tender."
El Akkad's novel humanizes a tragedy that those of us at such a safe distance can become indifferent and complacent about. Literature can overcome that distance and indifference by creating empathy through the reading experience.
The other Giller finalists were: Fight Night by Miriam Toews, Glorious Frazzled Beings by Angélique Lalonde, The Listeners by Jordan Tannahill and The Son of the House by Cheluchi Onyemelukwe-Onuobia.