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What Strange Paradise: A novel por Omar El…
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What Strange Paradise: A novel (edição 2021)

por Omar El Akkad (Autor)

MembrosCríticasPopularidadeAvaliação médiaMenções
13110167,382 (4.2)22
Título:What Strange Paradise: A novel
Autores:Omar El Akkad (Autor)
Informação:Knopf (2021), 256 pages
Colecções:A sua biblioteca

Informação Sobre a Obra

What Strange Paradise por Omar El Akkad

Adicionado recentemente porlibraryhead_wishlist, yoga58, tileston, fjpreader, mdpetrie, Deedledee, azimrin, dale01, petertassiopoulos, biblioteca privada
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This book won the Giller Prize for 2021 and, now that I have read it, I can see why. I was completely immersed in this story of a young Syrian boy on a battered boat in the Mediterranean. Against all odds he survived the shipwreck and then evaded capture by the local police on the island where he landed.

The book is structured so that chapters headed Before and After alternate, starting with an After chapter. Amir wakes up on a beach and when he sees uniformed men approaching him he takes off into the surrounding woods. He is spotted by a local girl, Vanna, coming out of the woods. Vanna hides him in an outbuilding and then sends the police off in another direction. In the Before chapters we learn that Amir, his mother, his stepfather (also his uncle) and his stepbrother left Syria and found refuge in Alexandria in Egypt. Amir's father and another uncle disappeared when they took part in a demonstration against the Syrian government. Amir learns that his uncle/stepfather has plans to go out late one night and he follows him all the way to the harbour. His uncle gets on board a boat with at least another 100 people of all different nationalities but with the wish to get to Europe and safety in common. Amir follows him to the ship and the gate-keeper lets him board even though his passage has not been pair. There is an implication that Amir will work off his passge in other ways which I took to mean that he would be made a prostitute. Fortunately his uncle comes up with enough money for a passage on the lower deck which he himself takes leaving Amir on the upper deck. The boat that leaves the Alexandrian harbour is soon exchanged for an old fishing boat and all the boat crew return to the original ship. They leave a pair of Eritreans in charge of piloting the ship, with instructions to just keep the compass needle on North. The ride on the boat is horrendous and probably completely accurate. As they get close to the island the boat capsizes and everyone is thrown into the water. On the island the police are trying to put all refugees in a detention centre. The woman in charge of the centre tells Vanna to take Amir to the tip of the island where there will be someone to take Amir to the mainland. On the mainland people from his own country will take him in. So Vanna, only a teenager, takes on the task of getting Amir safely there. The commanding officer, a former soldier who lost part of his leg while on a peace-keeping mission, is determined to catch them.

The author has said in several interviews that he structured the book as a fable. There is a clue to this right on the first page where one of the epigraphs is from Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie: "I taught you to fight and to fly. What more could there be?" Viewed as a retelling of Peter Pan gives this book a whole new meaning for me. Perhaps if I had read those interviews before I finished the book the ending would not have come as such a surprise. Don't say I didn't warn you. ( )
  gypsysmom | Nov 21, 2021 |
A novel about a Syrian child refugee and the young woman who attempts to save him, it was praised by the jury as a work that "raises questions of indifference and powerlessness and, ultimately, offers clues as to how we might reach out empathetically in a divided world."
  CarolBurrows | Nov 17, 2021 |
Refugee boy washes up on beach, choose your own adventure. Which story do you like, Akkad lets you pick. ( )
  kcshankd | Oct 7, 2021 |
The photo of the tiny body of Alan Kurdi, washed up on a beach on Kos in 2015, haunted the world. Inspired by that image, El Akkad has invented Amir, five years older than Alan, whose apparently lifeless body is also found on a beach on Kos. Amir, however, revives, evades the police, and makes his way with difficulty to what strange paradise? Beautifully written and enigmatic, the novel demands that its readers, especially its comfortable, white, European or North American readers, wrestle with some hard questions. ( )
  librorumamans | Oct 6, 2021 |
A beautifully written, quite cinematic novel which focuses an a Syrian child refugee, who becomes separated from both his mother and his uncle, with whom he has been travelling. The book is written in alternating “before” and “after” chapters. The former focus on the details of his passage and the conversations of fellow migrants aboard a rickety old fishing boat. These chapters do much to convey the hopes and aspirations of those leaving their homeland and the transactional cynicism of those that smuggle them. The “later” chapters describe the experience of the boy once he’s washed up on the shore of an unnamed Greek island in the Aegean Sea, seemingly befriended by a fifteen-year-old girl who lives on the island. The author more or less pulls the rug out from under the reader in a final chapter entitled “Now”. I admit I’m not keen on such twists and authorial sleights of hand. After thinking about the conclusion for a bit, I feel that while I may understand El Akkad’s aim, I’m still not satisfied by it. I found it frustrating and a bit gimmicky after a thought-provoking reading experience that combined the political, the spiritual, and the fabulistic. It is a worthy book to appear on the Canadian Giller Prize list of nominees. ( )
  fountainoverflows | Sep 24, 2021 |
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813.6 — Literature English (North America) American fiction 21st Century

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