Omar El Akkad holding his novel and Scotiabank Gillar Prize award.
Photo by Ryan Emberley.

Alumnus Wins Scotiabank Giller Prize

Author and journalist Omar El Akkad, Comp’04, has been named the 2021 Scotiabank Giller Prize winner for his second novel, What Strange Paradise.

This year marks the 28th anniversary of the Scotiabank Giller Prize, Canada’s richest literary award, given to an author of a novel or short story collection published within the previous year. On Nov. 8, Akkad took home $100,000 courtesy of Scotiabank.

Akkad’s debut novel, American War, was an international bestseller and won the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association Award, the Oregon Book Award for fiction, and the Kobo Emerging Writer Prize.

What Strange Paradise was released in July. “What Strange Paradise is a repurposed fable,” says Akkad, “based on the fable of Peter Pan and a child that never gets the opportunity to grow up.” Akkad re-imagined the fable as the story of a contemporary child refugee, to place readers within a story they thought they knew and enable them to see the refugee crisis through new eyes.

Akkad is not the first alumni to win the Giller Prize.  Michael Ondaatje, MA’67, won in 2000 for his novel, Anil's Ghost. Margaret Atwood, LLD’74, also won the Giller Prize in 1996 for Alias Grace.

Learn more about Akkad and What Strange Paradise by reading this recent Alumni Profile.