2010 Arab American Book Award Winners

(Books published in 2009)

Adult Fiction Master of the Eclipse by Etel Adnan
Adult Non-Fiction Angeleno Days: An Arab American Writer on Family, Place, and Politics by Gregory Orfalea
Poetry Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea: Poetry and Stories from Iraq by Dunya Mikail

Honorable Mentions
Adult Non-Fiction A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories by Alia Malek
Adult Non-Fiction Homeland Insecurity: The Arab American and Muslim American Experience After 9/11 by Louise A. Cainkar


Adult Fiction

Master of the Eclipse
By Etel Adnan
(Interlink Publishing Group)

From its title story, a meditation on history and war, power and poetry, to its concluding tale, a strangely human vision of a tree floating in a Damascus stream, Adnan’s painterly vision, poetic phrasing, cosmopolitan flexibility and philosophical approach are on full display. Most of the stories in Part One deal with the lives of exiles taking place in the great urban centers of the world, where crowding and loneliness shove up against one another. Part Two centers on homeland – its meaning, memories and realities. Inhabited by lovers, artists, filmmakers, poets, professors, madmen, prostitutes, murderers, recovering addicts, the young and the old, the stories in Master of the Eclipse are universal and intimate, as current as they are poetic.

Etel Adnan, the Lebanese American poet, artist, feminist and public intellectual, is the author of more than one dozen books. She was born in Lebanon to a Christian Greek mother and Muslim Syrian father, brought up speaking Greek and Turkish and French in an Arabic-speaking society, educated in a French convent school, and, as a student and an adult lived all over the world, including Paris and the East and West coasts of the U.S. Trained in philosophy at the Sorbonne, Harvard, and the University of California at Berkeley, Adnan was first a painter, then a poet. Her flexibility with language and style has allowed her to write poetry, plays, novels, short stories, essays and non-fiction. Her groundbreaking novel Sitt Marie Rose is one of the defining narratives of the Lebanese civil war. She lives in the Bay Area of California.

Adult Non-Fiction

Angeleno Days: An Arab American Writer on Family, Place, and Politics
By Gregory Orfalea
(University of Arizona Press)

Populated with fascinating characters, these essays tell the story of the author’s trials. He returns to Los Angeles to teach, trying to reconcile the L.A. of his childhood with the city he now faces. He takes on progressively more difficult and painful subjects, finally confronting the memories of the shocking tragedy that took the lives of his father and sister. With more than 400,000 Arab Americans in Los Angeles, Orfalea also explores his own community and its political and social concerns.

Gregory Orfalea is the author of Arab Americans: A History as well as Messengers of the Lost Battalion, two books of poetry, and memoir pieces for the Los Angeles Times Magazine, many of which appear here for the first time in book form. He divides his time between Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.


Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea: Poetry and Stories from Iraq
By Dunya Mikhail
(New Directions)

Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea transcends genres and crosses borders to present a deeply moving narrative of life in, and exile from, Baghdad. Through acute and vivid recollection of her 30 years in Iraq, Dunya Mikhail delivers her readers to a world much imagined yet rarely so intimately seen by Western eyes. Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea captivates not merely as it speaks to its present political moment, but as it tells a larger tale of cross-cultural struggle and individual perseverance.

Dunya Mikhail was born in Baghdad in 1965. She served as the literary editor of the Baghdad Observer throughout the 1990s, until harassment from Iraqi authorities forced her to flee the country. In 2001, she was awarded the United Nations Human Rights Award for Freedom of Writing. She currently lives in Michigan and works as an Arabic resource coordinator for a public school system. Her first collection of poetry in English, The War Works Hard, was a finalist for the 2006 Griffin Poetry Prize and was chosen by the New York Public Library as one of 25 Books to Remember from 2005.

2010 Honorable Mentions

Adult Non-Fiction
A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories
By Alia Malek
(Free Press)

What does American history look and feel like in the experiences of Arab Americans? In A Country Called Amreeka: Arab Roots, American Stories, Syrian American civil rights lawyer Alia Malek weaves the stories of the Arab American community into the story of America, using lively and moving narratives of real people who have lived history all around the country. Each chapter of the book corresponds to one historical event as it occurred in the life of one Arab American, allowing readers to live that moment in history in the skin of an individual Arab American.

Alia Malek is an author and civil rights lawyer. Born in Baltimore to Syrian immigrant parents, she began her legal career as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. After working in the legal field in the U.S., Lebanon and the West Bank, Malek, who has degrees from Johns Hopkins and Georgetown Universities, earned her master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. Her reportage has appeared in SalonThe Columbia Journalism Review, and The New York TimesA Country Called Amreeka is her first book.

Adult Non-Fiction

Homeland Insecurity:
The Arab American and Muslim American Experience After 9/11

By Louise A. Cainkar
(Russell Sage Foundation)

In the aftermath of 9/11, many Arab and Muslim Americans came under intense scrutiny by federal and local authorities, as well as their own neighbors, on the chance that they might know, support, or actually be terrorists. As Louise Cainkar observes, even U.S.-born Arabs and Muslims were portrayed as outsiders, an image that was amplified in the months after the attacks. She argues that 9/11 did not create anti-Arab and anti-Muslim suspicion; rather, their socially constructed images and social and political exclusion long before these attacks created an environment in which misunderstanding and hostility could thrive and the government could defend its use of profiling. Combining analysis and ethnography, Homeland Insecurity provides an intimate view of what it means to be an Arab or a Muslim in a country set on edge by the worst terrorist attack in its history.

Louise A. Cainkar is assistant professor of sociology and social justice at Marquette University. Her areas of research expertise include Arab American studies, Muslims in the United States, and immigrant communities, topics about which she has published widely. She serves on the editorial board of Middle East Report (MERIP) and is an officer of the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies. Prior to academia, Cainkar worked in human rights.

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