26@26: Omar El Akkad & Ian Williams

@ - MT
Series Pass $89
Single Ticket $15
Online
@ - MT
Single Ticket: Sept 21 Omar El Akkad & Ian Williams
$14.29 + GST
26@26 Series Pass
$84.76 + GST

Topical. Penetrating. At the forefront of the most anticipated books for fall are the latest from Omar El Akkad, whose second novel more than lives up to the high standards set by his first, and Ian Williams, whose first book of non-fiction proves that a poet’s perceptions on race make for required reading across genres.

The one-hour livestream event on Wordfest.com starts at 7:00 PM MT. (The pre-show begins at 6:50 PM.) The day after the show, we'll email you our unique Digital Doggie Bag, featuring links and extras sparked by the conversation. 

Can't watch live? Want to rewatch? Purchasing the 26@26 series pass or a single ticket gives you exclusive access to this show on demand until midnight on April 30, 2022. 

We’re grateful to Penguin Random House Canada for making it possible for us to connect you with these authors.

About Omar El Akkad

Omar El Akkad is an author and a journalist. He has reported from Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, and many other locations around the world. His work earned Canada's National Newspaper Award for Investigative Journalism and the Goff Penny Award for young journalists. His writing has appeared in The GuardianLe MondeGuernicaGQ, and many other newspapers and magazines. His debut novel, American War, an international bestseller, has been translated into thirteen languages. It won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, the Oregon Book Award for fiction, and the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize, and has been nominated for more than ten other awards. It was listed as one of the best books of the year by The New York TimesThe Washington PostGQ, NPR, and Esquire, and was selected by the BBC as one of 100 Novels That Shaped Our World.

Visit him at omarelakkad.com or follow him on Twitter @omarelakkad and Instagram @oelakkad.

About What Strange Paradise

It is one thing to put a human face on a migrant crisis and another to do so in so compelling a way that a reader simply cannot put your book down.”
Gish Jen, author of The Resisters

From the widely acclaimed, best-selling author of American War, a new novel – beautifully written, unrelentingly dramatic, and profoundly moving – that looks at the global refugee crisis through the eyes of a child.

More bodies have washed up on the shores of a small island. Another over-filled, ill-equipped, dilapidated ship has sunk under the weight of its too many passengers: Syrians, Ethiopians, Egyptians, Lebanese, Palestinians, all of them desperate to escape untenable lives in their homelands. And only one has made the passage: nine-year-old Amir, a Syrian boy who has the good fortune to fall into the hands not of the officials but of Vanna: a teenage girl, native to the island, who lives inside her own sense of homelessness in a place and among people she has come to disdain. And though she and the boy are complete strangers, though they don't speak a common language, she determines to do whatever it takes to save him.

In alternating chapters, we learn the story of the boy's life and how he came to be on the boat; and we follow the girl and boy as they make their way toward a vision of safety. But as the novel unfurls, we begin to understand that this is not merely the story of two children finding their way through a hostile world, it is the story of our collective moment in this time: of empathy and indifference, of hope and despair and of the way each of those things can blind us to reality, or guide us to a better one.

About Ian Williams

Ian Williams was born in Trinidad and raised in Canada. In 2019 he won the Scotiabank Giller Prize for his first novel, Reproduction, which was published in Canada, the US, and the UK, and translated into Italian. His poetry collection, Personals, was shortlisted for the Griffin Poetry Prize and the Robert Kroetsch Poetry Book Award. His short story collection, Not Anyone's Anything, won the Danuta Gleed Literary Award for the best first collection of short fiction in Canada. His first book, You Know Who You Are, was a finalist for the ReLit Poetry Prize. Williams holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Toronto and has recently returned to that university as a tenured professor, after several years as a professor of poetry in the Creative Writing program at the University of British Columbia. His third poetry collection, Word Problems, was published by Coach House Press in the fall of 2020.

Visit him at ianwlliams.ca or follow him on Twitter @ianwillwrite and Instagram @notianwilliams.

About Disorientation

Bestselling Scotiabank Giller Prize-winning writer Ian Williams brings fresh eyes and new insights to today's urgent conversation on race and racism in startling, illuminating essays that grow out of his own experience as a Black man moving through the world. 

With that one eloquent word, disorientation, Williams captures the impact of racial encounters on racialized people – the whiplash of race that occurs while minding one's own business. Sometimes the consequences are only irritating, but sometimes they are deadly. Spurred by the police killings and street protests of 2020, Williams realized he could offer a perspective distinct from the almost exclusively America-centric books on race topping the bestseller lists, because of one salient fact: he has lived in Trinidad (where he was never the only Black person in the room), in Canada (where he often was), and in the United States (where as a Black man from the Caribbean, he was a different kind of only).

Inspired by the essays of James Baldwin, in which the personal becomes the gateway to larger ideas, Williams explores such things as the unmistakable moment when a child realizes they are Black; the ten characteristics of institutional whiteness; how friendship forms a bulwark against being a target of racism; the meaning and uses of a Black person's smile; and blame culture – or how do we make meaningful change when no one feels responsible for the systemic structures of the past. With these essays, Williams wants to reach a multi-racial audience of people who believe that civil conversation on even the most charged subjects is possible. Examining the past and the present in order to speak to the future, he offers new thinking, honest feeling, and his astonishing, piercing gift of language.

About Host Esmahan Razavi

Esmahan Razavi is passionate about gender equity. She is a co-founder of Ask Her and served as its first President. She is also a former steering committee member of Equal Voice Calgary, and former national board director for Equal Voice. She has held senior campaign roles for women candidates in federal and provincial politics, and co-led the Calgary Women’s March in 2018 and 2019.

For her work in supporting women in politics, Razavi was selected as one of Canada’s top 33 women in 2017 by Chatelaine magazine. She was also named one of the top 50 Arab women in North America by the Arab Women of Excellence Awards in 2019. Razavi is an Associate Principal at Champion Communications & PR.

Curiouser?

  • Omar El Akkad on the Privilege of Instantaneous Forgetting Interview Magazine
  • What Strange Paradise Explores Two Sides of a Migrant Crisis The New York Times
  • What Strange Paradise Focuses On The Human Stories At The Heart Of A Crisis NPR
  • Disorientation GRANTA
  • Disorientation in conversation: a look at Ian Williams' upcoming book The Varsity
  • Down the road: How Black people keep going after being stopped The Globe and Mail
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