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The Role of Fiction in Facing One’s Past: Alice Zeniter and Omar El Akkad

Meet Alice Zeniter and Omar El Akkad, two bestselling novelists who have used their work to explore ignored chapters in history, give voice to the disenfranchised, and challenge national myths.

In her bestselling book The Art of Losing, just released in an English translation by Frank Wynne, Alice Zeniter brings to light the inescapable legacies of French colonialism through the tale of a French-Algerian woman reckoning with her family’s secret past.

Meanwhile Canadian-Egyptian writer Omar El Akkad delves into contemporary issues such as geopolitical tensions and climate change in his first novel American War.

Together, Zeniter and El Akkad will discuss their creative process and share their intentions behind their work: helping us discover another way to look at the world and our own history. The conversation will be moderated by Anderson Tepper.

40 minutes with Q&A


Alice Zeniter is a French novelist, translator, scriptwriter, and director. Her novel Take This Man was published in English by Europa Editions in 2011. Zeniter has won many awards for her work in France, including the Prix Littéraire de la Porte Dorée, the Prix Renaudot des Lycéens, and the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens, which was awarded to The Art of Losing. She lives in Brittany.

Omar El Akkad is an author and journalist. The start of his journalism career coincided with the start of the war on terror, which he covered around the world. His work earned a National Newspaper Award for Investigative Journalism and the Goff publications. His debut novel, American War (2017), is an international bestseller and has been translated into 13 languages. His new novel, What Strange Paradise, will be published by Knopf in July, 2021.

Anderson Tepper is a writer, a managing editor, a book reviewer and the host and curator of many literary events. He is co-chair of the International Committee of the Brooklyn Book Festival and host of a global author series with BPL Presents at the Brooklyn Public Library. His writing has appeared in the New York Times Book ReviewVanity FairWorld Literature Today, and Words Without Borders, among other places.

© Image FrimousseRoche

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