The Arab American Book Award

The Arab American Book Award is an honor given each year to outstanding books written by or about Arab Americans. The Arab American Book Award was established in 2006 in partnership with librarians from the University of Toledo, and the mission is to celebrate Arab American literature and honor those who have produced exemplary work. Through outreach and publicity, the award raises greater awareness of Arab American literature and scholarship. We have awarded more than 100 books and every year we are honoring more titles and authors. Our book award is the only one in the nation created specifically to honor Arab American writers and books about the Arab American experience.

Winners are chosen each year from the categories below. Past award years may not have winners for all these categories, or have multiple winners for one category, due to the fluidity of submissions each year. Also, if deemed appropriate, honorable mentions within these categories may be awarded as well.

  • Adult Fiction
  • Adult Non-Fiction (The Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award)
  • Poetry (The George Ellenbogen Poetry Award)
  • Children’s/Young Adult Literature

For a book submission to qualify, it must comply with the following criteria:

  • It must be written, edited, or illustrated by an Arab American, and/or highlight the Arab American experience. We define an Arab American as anyone who has ancestry in any of the 22 Arab countries.
  • The book must be published in English and have a copyright date between January 1 and December 31 of the past year (e.g. the 2023 awards correspond to books with a copyright date of 2022).
  • Chapbooks and anthologies are accepted.
  • The portrayal or representation of Arab Americans should be accurate and engaging and avoid stereotypes.

If you have questions regarding eligibility, please email librarian “at”


Submissions are reviewed each year by a committee of readers familiar with the Arab American experience and/or involved in literary community. Examples of previous readers are librarians, Arab American scholars, past award winners and poets. When selecting winning titles, readers consider the book’s portrayal of the Arab American experience, and the book’s contribution to the Arab American literary landscape. Since books are not required to highlight the Arab American experience, the book’s overall quality and contribution to its respective field is equally considered. For non-fiction titles, readers also consider the relevancy, sufficiency and accuracy of a book’s information. After verifying a submission’s eligibility, Arab American National Museum staff takes no part in the readers’ deliberations.

Submission for the 2024 Book Award is closed. Check back in at the end of the year for the next round.

Awards Timeline
  • December 1: Book Award entry form opens
  • March 1: Book Award entry form closes
  • April through July: Committees review books and deliberate
  • Early Fall: Winners contacted and announced publicly
  • Late Fall: Ceremony held to honor winners

The Arab American Book Award winners are celebrated in a ceremony each fall that is open to the public. All are welcome! Readers, winners, and community members all come together to celebrate Arab American literature. This unique event not only honors the award winners of the year, but it allows a space for the Arab American community to celebrate their culture and heritage. The ceremony typically takes place at the Arab American National Museum, but we have also used other venues in past years. Check back on this site in the fall for the location and date for this year’s Book Awards.

Past Arab American Book Award winners: 

202320222021202020192018  – 2017  – 2016 –  20152014  – 20132012  – 20112010 –  200920082007

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