'What Strange Paradise' Explores Forced Displacement Through a Child's Eyes

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Omar El Akkad is the author of "What Strange Paradise." (Photo of Omar El Akkad by Kateshia Pendergrass. Cover photo from Penguin Random House.)

For a few days in late 2015, global outrage coursed at the photo of Alan Kurdi, the lifeless two-year old Syrian boy found washed ashore in Turkey after the boat carrying him and other migrants sank on its way to Greece. Omar El Akkad's new novel "What Strange Paradise" imagines an alternative narrative: a young migrant child survives a shipwreck and tries to forge his way to safety. El Akkad, who's also a journalist and former war correspondent, says he wrote the novel to counter what he calls "the privilege of instantaneous forgetting." We'll talk to him about the ongoing global refugee crisis and the human stories that inform his work.


Omar El Akkad, journalist and author. His new book is "What Strange Paradise."