Omar El Akkad was born in 1982 in Cairo, Egypt, and grew up in Doha, Qatar, before moving to Canada with his family when he was 16 years old. He graduated from high school in Montreal and earned a degree in computer science from Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
It was as a college student at Queen’s that he began his career as a journalist. For ten years, he covered many of the most important recent global stories including the NATO-led war in Afghanistan; the military trials at Guatànamo Bay, Cuba; the Arab Spring revolution in Egypt; and the Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
Omar is a recipient of Canada’s National Newspaper Award for investigative reporting for his coverage of the “Toronto 18” terrorism arrests. He also won the Edward Goff Penny Memorial Prize for Young Canadian Journalists, and has been nominated for several (Canadian) National Magazine Awards. American War, his first novel, was a New York Times Notable Book, and was a shortlisted finalist for the 2017 Roger Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and for the 2018 Amazon.ca First Novel Award and the 2018 James Tait Black Memorial Prize. American War was also listed as one of the best books of the year by The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle, NPR, GQ, Esquire, The Guardian, The Austin Chronicle, PopSugar, and Paste Magazine.
Omar now lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and young daughter.