2019 Arab American Book Award Winners

(Books published in 2018)



Fiction Amreekiya by Lena Mahmoud

As Good As True by Cheryl Reid

The Evelyn Shakir
Non-Fiction Award
Syrian and Lebanese Patricios in Sao Paulo, by Oswaldo Truzzi; translated by Ramon J. Stern

The Sound of Listening by Philip Metres

The George Ellenbogen Poetry Award Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance by Fady Joudah
Children/Young Adult I’ve Loved You Since Forever by Hoda Kotb

Honorable Mentions

Poetry El Cerrito by Noor Al-Samarrai
Children/Young Adult Mirage by Somaiya Daud
2019 Arab American Book Awards Celebration  

The awardees were honored during a celebration on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019 at AANM, presented in conjunction with the MOVE Arab American Summit.




Amreekiya by Lena Mahmoud
University Press of Kentucky, 2018

Isra Shadi, a twenty-one-year-old woman of mixed Palestinian and white descent, lives in California with her paternal amu (uncle), amtu (aunt) and cousins after the death of her mother and abandonment by her father at a young age. Ever the outcast in her amu and amtu’s household, they eagerly encourage Isra to marry and leave. After rejecting a string of undesirable suitors, she marries Yusef, an old love from her past. An exploration of womanhood from an underrepresented voice in American literature, Amreekiya is simultaneously unique and relatable. Featuring an authentic array of characters, Mahmoud’s first novel is a much-needed story in a divided world.

About Lena Mahmoud
Lena Mahmoud was nominated for Pushcart Prizes for her story Al Walad and her essay The Psyche of a Palestinian-American Writer and was shortlisted for the OWT Fiction Prize. Her

work has appeared or is forthcoming in Sinister Guru, KNOT Magazine, Pulp Literature, Fifth Wednesday Journal and Sukoon.

As Good As True by Cheryl Reid
Lake Union Publishing, 2018

After a night of rage and terror, Anna Nassad wakes to find her abusive husband dead and instinctively hides her bruises and her relief. As the daughter of Syrian immigrants living in segregated Alabama in the 1950s, Anna has never belonged, and now her world is about to erupt. As threats and suspicio

ns arise in the angry community, Anna must confront her secrets in the face of devastating turmoil and reconcile her anguished relationship with her daughter. Will she discover the strength to

 fight for those she loves most, even if it means losing all she’s ever known?

About Cheryl Reid
Cheryl Reid, the great granddaughter of Syrian immigrants, grew up in Decatur, Alabama. She studied art and writing at Agnes Scott College and earned an MFA from Georgia State University. She lives with her husband and three children in Decatur, Georgia. As Good As True is her first novel.

The Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award

Syrian and Lebanese Patricios in Sao Paulo, by Oswaldo Truzzi; translated by Ramon J. Stern
University of Illinois Press, 2018


Syrian and Lebanese immigrants to Brazil chose to settle in urban areas, a marked contrast to many other migrant groups. In São Paulo, these newcomers embraced new lives as merchants, shopkeepers and industrialists, making them a dominant force in the city’s business sector. Oswaldo Truzzi’s pioneering book identifies the complex social paths blazed by Syrian and Lebanese immigrants and their descendants from the 1890s to the 1960s. He considers their relationships to other groups within São Paulo’s kaleidoscopic mix of cultures. He also reveals the differences–real and perceived–between Syrians and Lebanese in terms of religious and ethnic affinities and in the economic sphere. Finally, he compares the two groups with their counterparts in the United States and looks at the wave of Lebanese Muslims to São Paulo that began in the 1960s.

About Oswaldo Truzzi
Oswaldo Truzzi is a senior professor of graduate studies in sociology at the Federal University of São Carlos.

About Ramon J. Stern (pictured)
Ramon J. Stern is a translator and administrative manager of the Brazil Initiative and Brazilian Studies Association at Brown University.

The Sound of Listening by Philip Metres
University of Michigan Press, 2018


Gathering a decade of his writing on poetry, Philip Metres widens our sense of poetry as a way of being in the world, proposing that poems can offer a permeability to marginalized voices and a shelter from the imperial noise and despair that can silence us. The Sound of Listening ranges between expansive surveys of the poetry of 9/11, Arab American poetry, documentary poetry, landscape poetry, installation poetry and peace poetry; personal explorations of poets such as Adrienne Rich, Khalil Gibran, Lev Rubinstein and Arseny Tarkovsky; and intimate dialogues with Randa Jarrar, Fady Joudah and Micah Cavaleri, that illuminate Metres’ practice of listening in his 2015 work, Sand Opera.

About Philip Metres
Philip Metres is the author of nine books of poems, translation and criticism. The recipient of a Lannan Fellowship, two Arab American Book Awards and the Cleveland Arts Prize, among other honors, he is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice and Human Rights program at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.

The George Ellenbogen Poetry Award

Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance by Fady Joudah 
Milkweed Editions, 2018


“Fady Joudah has been writing essential poetry for some time, but few books of American poetry seem to me as essential as this one: it is forging a lyric that works at the crosscurrents of reportage, myth and dream where falsely imagined boundaries―of gender, nation, family―fray and unfold, and there are possibilities other than ‘to go mad among the mad / or to go it alone.’ Joudah’s gifts for articulating the intersections of bewilderment, tenderness, rage and grief are fully alive here. These poems blaze into the visionary.” ― Mary Szybist

About Fady Joudah
Fady Joudah has published four collections of poems: The Earth in the Attic, Alight, Textu and, most recently, Footnotes in the Order of Disappearance. He has translated several collections of poetry from Arabic and is the co-editor and co-founder of the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize. He was a winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets competition in 2007 and has received a PEN award, a Banipal/Times Literary Supplement prize from the UK, the Griffin Poetry Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He lives in Houston with his wife and kids where he practices internal medicine.

Children/Young Adult

I’ve Loved You Since Forever by Hoda Kotb 
HarperCollins, 2018


I’ve Loved You Since Forever is a celebratory and poetic testament to the timeless love felt between parent and child. This beautiful picture book is inspired by Today show co-anchor Hoda Kotb’s heartwarming adoption of her baby girl, Haley Joy. With Kotb’s lyrical text and stunning pictures by Suzie Mason, young ones and parents will want to snuggle up and read the pages of this book together, over and over again.

About Hoda Kotb
Hoda Kotb is the award-winning co-anchor of NBC’s Today show and correspondent on Dateline NBC. She is the author of several books, including The New York Times bestselling children’s book I’ve Loved You Since Forever and adult book Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer, and Kathie Lee. Of all her accomplishments, her proudest moment is the adoption of a baby girl, Haley Joy, in February 2017. She lives in New York City.

Honorable Mentions


El Cerrito by Noor Al-Samarrai
Inside the Castle, 2018


This debut collection of poems by Noor Al-Samarrai is modeled on the heterogenous form of the Japanese haibun. Taken loosely as a jumping-off point, El Cerrito expands across the earth like a hopscotching adventure through the intimacy and expansiveness of our common human struggles.

About Noor Al-Samarrai
Noor Al-Samarrai is a writer and performer whose work centers around the confluence between space and memory. El Cerrito is her debut collection of poetry. A 2016-17 Fulbright Fellow, she also conducts workshops on poetry and situationism and sings in the band Dog-Maw and the Plastic L.A. Skyline.

Children/Young Adult

Mirage by Somaiya Daud 
Hodder & Stoughton, 2018


Cinder meets The Wrath and the Dawn in this epic fantasy about a poor girl who must become the body double of a princess of a ruthless empire. In a world dominated by the brutal Vathek empire, eighteen-year-old Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated home. But when adventure comes for Amani, it is not what she expects…

About Somaiya Daud
Somaiya Daud is the author of Mirage: A Novel and a PhD candidate at the University of Washington. A former bookseller in the children’s department at Politics and Prose in Washington, D.C., Somaiya is passionate about Arabic poetry and the cosmos.

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