Monday, 26 March 2018

Canada Reads: book 4

Book 4: "American War" by Omar El Akkad

  This is a dystopian novel.  The prologue talks about the 2030's and 2040's - "before the planet turned on the country and the country turned on itself".
  The Second Civil War in the United States begins in 2074- goes on for twenty years. It is triggered by the climate crisis- the north is banning fossil fuels.  A young southern girl, Sarat Chestnut, is the main character and the novel tells how she was affected by the violence as a child, became a killer and was tortured for years.  She found the ultimate revenge in the horrifying climax.
  It has been called "a notable book of the year, by The New York Times book review, and it is a Globe and Mail 'best book'.
  I hated every page.

This book will be defended by Tahmon Penikett, an actor, who grew up in Whitehorse.
He said that the book is about religious bigotry, regional hatred, racism, sexism and fake news.  I didn't see any of those things.  I saw bombing, fighting, killing, and torture.
He said that it has echoes of America today.  And that, alone, is a scary thought. 
What is the appeal of this book for so many readers?  One of the reviews online said "The war lasts for nearly twenty years, with unmanned drones and biological warfare and good old-fashioned terrorism making a ruins of the South."  What is appealing about that?
Let's face it.  I never understood the appeal of dystopian novels.  Most people have enough challenges in their life, that they don't need to add the sense of hopelessness that these novels invoke.
If people enjoy this writing, they have a right to read it.  However, why would Canada Reads recommend that 'all of Canada' read this book?  It baffles me!

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