2016 Arab American Book Award Winners

(Books published in 2015)



A Curious Land: Stories of Home by Susan Muaddi Darraj

The Evelyn Shakir
Non-Fiction Award

Handbook of Arab American Psychology edited by Mona M. Amer and Germine H. Awad
This Muslim American Life: Dispatches from the War on Terror by Moustafa Bayoumi

The George Ellenbogen Poetry Award

The Republics by Nathalie Handal

Honorable Mentions

In the Language of Miracles by Rajia Hassib


Sand Opera by Philip Metres

Lifetime Achievement Award

‘Afifa Karam

2016 Arab American Book Awards Celebration
This year’s winners were honored during a ceremony held Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016, at the Lebanese American University – New York Academic Center in Manhattan.



A Curious Land: Stories from Home
By Susan Muaddi Darraj
Amherst, Mass.: 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 Stories, Orchid Literary Review, Banipal, Mizna, al-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.

The Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award

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).

The 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 Republics portray devastating personal histories and community pain in the wake of the 2010 earthquake.

Nathalie Handal is the author of Poet in AndalucíaLove 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 – 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.

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.

Lifetime Achievement Award

‘Afifa Karam

‘Afifa Karam (1883-1924), who immigrated from Lebanon to the United States in 1897, was a ground-breaking journalist, novelist and translator in an era when women were not often published. Once she and her husband settled in Shreveport, Louisiana, Karam wrote regularly for the New York City-based, Arabic-language newspaper al-Hoda. She went on to found two monthly women’s periodicals, The New Women’s World (1911) and Syrian Woman (1913). Karam was also the author of three novels. Through her writing, she was a strong advocate for women’s rights and Arab feminism.
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