In this episode of The Archive Project, Omar El Akkad, Benjamin Percy, and Lidia Yuknavitch discuss their newest works in a conversation titled “Resistance and Rebellion: Dystopian Fiction” at the 2017 Portland Book Festival. El Akkad’s début novel American War imagines an American landscape devastated by its second Civil War and tells the story of the young woman who carries the war-torn country’s fate. Benjamin Percy’s Dark Net is set in contemporary Portland, where a group of misfits must work together to stop Internet demons from spreading virally into the real world. Set in the year 2049, Lidia Yuknavitch’s Book of Joan follows the eponymous child-rebel Joan of Arc as she fights for humankind on an Earth ravaged by climate change. They discuss the inspiration for and execution of their boundary-pushing new works. Drawing on some of today’s most pressing issues, these authors create poignant images of a not-so-distant future.
Omar El Akkad was born in Cairo, Egypt and grew up in Doha, Qatar until he moved to Canada with his family. He is an award-winning journalist and author who has traveled around the world to cover many of the most important news stories of the last decade. His reporting includes dispatches from the NATO-led war in Afghanistan, the military trials at Guantanamo Bay, the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt and the Black Lives Matter movement in Ferguson, Missouri. He is a recipient of Canada’s National Newspaper Award for investigative reporting and the Goff Penny Memorial Prize for Young Canadian Journalists, as well as three National Magazine Award honorable mentions. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Benjamin Percy has won a Whiting Award, a Plimpton Prize, two Pushcart Prizes, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is the author of the novels The Dead Lands, Red Moon, and The Wilding, two story collections, and an essay collection, Thrill Me. He also writes the Green Arrow and Teen Titans series for DC Comics. He lives in Minnesota with his family.
Lidia Yuknavitch is the author of the National Bestselling novel The Small Backs of Children, winner of the 2016 Oregon Book Award’s Ken Kesey Award for Fiction, as well as the Reader’s Choice Award; the novel Dora: A Headcase; and three books of short stories. Her widely acclaimed memoir The Chronology of Water was a finalist for a PEN Center USA award for creative nonfiction and winner of a PNBA Award and the Oregon Book Award Reader’s Choice. She founded the workshop series Corporeal Writing in Portland, Oregon, where she also teaches Women’s Studies, Film Studies, Writing, and Literature. She received her doctorate in Literature from the University of Oregon. She lives in Oregon with her husband Andy Mingo and their renaissance man son, Miles. She is a very good swimmer.