Arts & Culture Award

Egypt Author Omar El Akkad Wins Canadian Literature Award

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Egyptian-Canadian writer and journalist, Omar El Akkad has won Canada’s most prestigious literary award.

Akkad won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for his book “What Strange Paradise” , receiving the honour at a nationally-televised Toronto gala.

“What Strange Paradise,” published by McClelland & Stewart, is a novel about two children caught in the global refugee crisis. The story alternates between the perspectives of Amir, a Syrian boy who survives a shipwreck on an unnamed island, and Vanna, the local teenage girl who saves him.

Akkad, 39, moved to Canada when he was 16 and went to high school in Montreal before attending Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He lived in Toronto for about a decade and did a stint in Ottawa as a Parliament Hill reporter.

The Giller Prize is considered one of the most prestigious in Canadian literature. Past winners have included Margaret Atwood, Mordecai Richler and Alice Munro.

The Giller was created in 1994 by businessman Jack Rabinovitch in memory of his late wife, literary journalist Doris Giller. It honours the best in Canadian fiction.

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