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2016 Arab American Book Awards Hightlights Literary Excellence

posted on: Sep 1, 2016

2016 Arab American Book Awards Hightlights Literary Excellence

Press Release: Arab American National Museum

After a detailed selection process, the winners of the 2016 Arab American Book Awards have been selected and for the first time two books will receive the Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award.

The two winning titles – Mona M. Amer and Germine H. Awad’s Handbook of Arab American Psychologyand Moustafa Bayoumi’s This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror – are a direct reflection of the depth of the category that includes a wide range of submissions, from academic texts to memoirs and cookbooks.

The complete list of winners include Susan Muaddi Darraj (A Curious Land: Stories from Home), Mona M. Amer and Germine H. Awad (Handbook of Arab American Psychology), Moustafa Bayoumi (This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror) and Nathalie  Handal (The Republics). This year’s awardees reflect Arab American diversity with winners of Palestinian, Egyptian and Lebanese descent.

Marking the 10th anniversary of the Arab American Book Awards, which is organized by the Arab American National Museum (AANM), this year’s ceremony and reception will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, in partnership with the Lebanese American University at its New York Academic Center in Manhattan, 211 East 46 St., New York, NY, 10017. All of the winners are expected to attend this year’s event.

During the ceremony, early Arab American writer Afifa Karam (1883–1924) will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award for her memorable literary contributions. Born in 1883 in the village of `Amshit, Lebanon, Karam immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager where she worked as a journalist, translator and novelist. Her frequent contributions to Al-Huda, a daily Arabic newspaper published in New York City, began at the age of 16. She would later establish The New World—A Ladies’ Monthly Arabic Magazine where she defended the rights of women and criticized the social and economic factors that delayed woman’s progress.

The celebration is also being held in conjunction with the Arab American National Museum’s Little Syria, NY: An Immigrant Community’s Life & Legacy exhibition, on display at the Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration from Oct. 1, 2016 – Jan. 9, 2017.

“New York City was the early home of Arab American literature,” says Kirsten Terry-Murphy, AANM librarian. “Celebrating this year’s Arab American Book Awards in New York is a natural way to honor that cultural heritage.”

This national literary competition – the only one of its kind in the United States – is designed to honor books by and about Arab Americans. It is one of many Museum programs that draw attention to the achievements and contributions of Arab Americans and help build community through the arts

The winners of the 2016 Arab American Book Awards are:

WINNER: Fiction Award

A Curious Land: Stories from Home 

By Susan Muaddi Darraj

HONORABLE MENTION: Fiction

In the Language of Miracles

By Rajia Hassib

WINNERS: Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award

Handbook of Arab American Psychology 

Edited by Mona M. Amer and Germine H. Awad

AND

This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror

By Moustafa Bayoumi

WINNER: George Ellenbogen Poetry Award

The Republics 

By Nathalie Handal

HONORABLE MENTION: Poetry

Sand Opera

By Philip Metres

For Bayoumi, this year’s honor marks his second Arab American Book Award selection. In 2009, his book, How Does It Feel To Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America, received the Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award.

The winning titles were chosen by genre-specific review committees comprised of selected readers from across the country, including respected authors, professors, and librarians. Winning titles have ranged from educational and academic books on the Arab American experience to mainstream fiction by an Arab American author on a non-Arab theme.

The Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award was named to honor the legacy and contributions to Arab American scholarship by Evelyn Shakir, who died of breast cancer in 2010. In addition to winning the 2008 Arab American Book Award for Fiction for Remember Me to Lebanon: Stories of Lebanese Women in America (Syracuse University Press, 2007), Prof. Shakir extensively researched the history of Arab women and wrote the groundbreaking work Bint Arab: Arab and Arab American Women in the United States (Praeger, 1997). Shakir’s longtime partner, poet George Ellenbogen, established the named award in collaboration with the Arab American National Museum. In appreciation of Ellenbogen’s continued support for the Book Awards program, the Poetry category award now bears his name.

Scroll down or visit http://www.arabamericanmuseum.org/bookaward for information about this year’s winners and honorable mentions. A call for submissions for the 2017 awards will be issued in December.

 

2016 Arab American Book Award Winners

WINNER: Fiction Award

A Curious Land: Stories from Home 

By Susan Muaddi Darraj

Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2015

Susan Muaddi Darraj’s short story collection about the inhabitants of a Palestinian West Bank village, Tel al-Hilou, spans generations and continents to explore ideas of memory, belonging, connection, and, ultimately, the deepest and richest meaning of home. A Curious Land gives voice to the experiences of Palestinians in the last century.

Susan Muaddi Darraj’s stories, essays, and reviews have appeared in New York StoriesOrchid Literary ReviewBanipalMiznaal-Jadid, and several anthologies. Her previous short story collection, The Inheritance of Exile, was honored by the U.S. State Department’s Arabic Book Program. She is a recipient of an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council. A Philadelphia native, she currently lives in Baltimore.

Darraj’s A Curious Land, a book of short stories, has also received the AWP Grace Paley Award for Short Fiction and the American Book Award and is shortlisted for the Palestine Book Award.

WINNERS: Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award (2)

Handbook of Arab American Psychology 

Edited by Mona M. Amer and Germine H. Awad

New York: Routledge, 2015

The Handbook of Arab American Psychology contains a comprehensive review of the cutting-edge research related to Arab Americans and offers a critical analysis regarding the methodologies and applications of the scholarly literature. It is a landmark text for both multicultural psychology as well as for Arab American scholarship. Considering the post 9/11 socio-political context in which Arab Americans are under ongoing scrutiny and attention, as well as numerous misunderstandings and biases against this group, this text is timely and essential.

Mona M. Amer, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. Dr. Amer’s primary research and policy interests are in ethnic/racial disparities in behavioral health, with a specialization in the Arab and Muslim minorities. She is the co-editor of Counseling Muslims: Handbook of Mental Health Issues and Interventions and previous editor-in-chief of the Journal of Muslim Mental Health.

Germine H. Awad, PhD, is an associate professor of psychology in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Her research can be broadly categorized in the area of prejudice and discrimination as well as ethnic/racial identity and acculturation. Dr. Awad is the co-chair of the APA Committee on Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA) working group on Arab/Middle Eastern Americans and has served on several journal editorial boards.

This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror

By Moustafa Bayoumi

New York: NYU Press, 2015

To be a Muslim American today often means to exist in a space between exotic and dangerous, victim and villain, simply because of the assumptions people carry about you. In the gripping essays in This Muslim American Life, Bayoumi exposes how contemporary politics, movies, novels, media experts and more have together produced a culture of fear and suspicion that not only willfully forgets the Muslim-American past, but also threatens all of our civil liberties in the present.

Moustafa Bayoumi is the author of How Does It Feel To Be a Problem?: Being Young and Arab in America, which won an American Book Award and the Arab American Book Award in 2009. He is the editor of Midnight on the Mavi Marmara and co-editor of The Edward Said Reader. He is Professor of English at Brooklyn College, City University of New York (CUNY).

WINNER: George Ellenbogen Poetry Award

The Republics 

By Nathalie  Handal

Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2015

Inspired by stories people told the author during a visit to Haiti, her birthplace, in 2011, the prose poems in this collection are flash reportages about life on the island of Hispaniola. Many of the short works in The Republicsportray devastating personal histories and community pain in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.

Nathalie Handal is the author of Poet in Andalucía, Love and Strange Horses, a Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award winner, and is coeditor of Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond. She is a Lannan Foundation Fellow, recipient of the Alejo Zuloaga Order in Literature, the Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Book Award, and an Honored Finalist for the Gift of Freedom Award, among other honors. She teaches at Columbia University and is the editor of “The City and the Writer” for Words without Borders magazine.

 

2016 Honorable Mentions

HONORABLE MENTION: Poetry

Sand Opera

By Philip Metres

Farmington, Maine: Alice James Books, 2015

Sand Opera emerges from the dizzying position of being named but unheard as an Arab American, and out of the parallel sense of seeing Arabs named and silenced since 9/11. Polyvocal poems, arias, and redacted text speak for the unheard. Metres exposes our common humanity, while investigating the dehumanizing perils of war and its lasting effect on our culture.

Philip Metres is an award-winning poet, translator, scholar, and activist. He received a Ph.D. in English and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Indiana University and now is professor in the Department of English at John Carroll University. His poetry has garnered two NEA fellowships, the Thomas J. Watson Fellowship, five Ohio Arts Council Grants, the Beatrice Hawley Award, the Anne Halley Prize, the Arab American Book Award (2012 and 2014), and the Cleveland Arts Prize.

HONORABLE MENTION: Fiction

In the Language of Miracles

By Rajia Hassib

New York: Viking/Penguin Random House, 2015

Writing with unflinchingly honest prose, Rajia Hassib tells the story of one Egyptian-American family pushed to the brink by tragedy and mental illness, trying to salvage the life they worked so hard to achieve. The graceful, elegiac voice of In the Language of Miracles paints tender portraits of a family’s struggle to move on in the wake of heartbreak, to stay true to its traditions, and above all else, to find acceptance and reconciliation.

Rajia Hassib was born and raised in Egypt and moved to the United States when she was twenty-three. She holds an MA in creative writing from Marshall University and her short fiction has appeared in UpstreetSteam Ticket, and Border Crossing magazines. She lives in West Virginia with her husband and two children.