released OUT NOW! 333 pages | Hardback/ebook
Author Omar el akkad Publisher Picador
sarat Chestnut is just a child when the Second American Civil War breaks out after four Southern States refuse to quell their reliance on fossil fuels. Displaced by the fighting to a refugee camp, Sarat attracts the attention of a recruiter for the rebel cause, in the process setting in motion a chain of events that will bring ruin upon what’s left of her country.
Set in the near future, American War is a study of radicalisation that tips our world upside down. The Free Southern States that Sarat calls home rely on aid shipments from China and the Middle East, while a US president is killed by a domestic-born “homicide bomber”.
Omar El Akkad’s topically minded tale deals with climate change, drone warfare, a refugee crisis and the use of torture. There’s satire in his premise of the US going to war with itself over oil, but no room for humour or levity. It’s a dark and often brutal experience, as Sarat becomes scarred, first psychologically and then physically, by the violence that engulfs her life. The torture sequence is particularly unsettling, and the novel is almost unrelentingly grim, a catalogue of the horrors inflicted by war.
El Akkad’s portrait of the future proves to be compelling, but Sarat’s journey towards annihilation is ultimately an emotionally draining one. David West