Established in 2006 by the Arab American National Museum, the Arab American Book Award honors significant literature by and about Arab Americans. It is the only literary competition of its type in the U.S.
The 2012 Arab American Book Award winners have been announced and are awarded to authors of fiction, non-fiction and poetry.
Birds of Paradise
In the tropical paradise that is Miami, Avis and Brian Muir are still haunted by the disappearance of their ineffably beautiful daughter, Felice, who ran away when she was 13. Now, after five years of modeling tattoos, skateboarding, clubbing, and sleeping in a squat house or on the beach, Felice is about to turn 18. Her family-Avis, an exquisitely talented pastry chef; Brian, a corporate real estate attorney; and her brother, Stanley, the proprietor of Freshly Grown, a trendy food market-will each be forced to confront their anguish, loss, and sense of betrayal. Meanwhile, Felice must reckon with the guilty secret that drove her away, and must face her fear of losing her family and her sense of self forever.
Diana Abu-Jaber is the award-winning author of Origin, Crescent, Arabian Jazz, and The Language of Baklava. Her writing has appeared in Good Housekeeping, Ms., Salon, Vogue, Gourmet, the New York Times, The Nation, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times. Her book, Origin, was awarded the 2008 Arab American Book Award Honorable Mention for Fiction. She divides her time between Coral Gables, Florida, and Portland, Oregon.
The Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award
Arab & Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, & Belonging
Edited by Rabab Abdulhadi, Evelyn Alsultany and Nadine Naber
(Syracuse University Press)
In this collection, Arab and Arab American feminists enlist their intimate experiences to challenge simplistic and long-held assumptions about gender, sexuality, and commitments to feminism and justice-centered struggles. Contributors hail from multiple geographical sites, spiritualities, occupations, sexualities, class backgrounds, and generations. Poets, creative writers, artists, scholars, and activists employ a mix of genres to express feminist issues and highlight how Arab and Arab American feminist perspectives simultaneously inhabit multiple, overlapping, and intersecting spaces: within families and communities; in anticolonial and antiracist struggles; in debates over spirituality and the divine; within radical, feminist, and queer spaces; in academia and on the street; and between each other.
Contributors explore themes as diverse as the intersections between gender, sexuality, Orientalism, racism, Islamophobia, and Zionism, and the restoration of Arab Jews to Arab American histories. This book asks how members of diasporic communities navigate their sense of belonging when the country in which they live wages wars in the lands of their ancestors. Arab and Arab American Feminisms opens up new possibilities for placing grounded Arab and Arab American feminist perspectives at the center of gender studies, Middle East studies, American studies, and ethnic studies.
Rabab Abdulhadi is associate professor of ethnic studies/race and resistance studies and senior scholar of the Arab and Muslim Ethnicities and Diasporas Initiative at San Francisco State University. She is the coauthor of Mobilizing Democracy: Changing U.S. Policy in the Middle East, over 70 bilingual newspaper and journal articles, and co-editor (with Evelyn Alsultany and Nadine Naber) of Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence and Belonging. She is a recipient of the New Century Scholarship and serves on the International Advisory Board of the World Congress of Middle East studies (WOCMES) and a Policy Advisor to the Palestinian think Tank, AL-Shabaka. As Director of the Center for Arab American Studies at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, she has initiated collaborative projects including “Mapping Arab Diasporas”, “Connecting Jerusalem and Dearborn: Developing Arab American and American Studies Curriculum in the US and the Arab World”, and “The Spirit of Bandung: Postcolonial Histories, Transnational Solidarities and 3rd World Cultures of Resistance”.
Evelyn Alsultany is an Associate Professor in the Program in American Culture at the University of Michigan, where she is the co-director of Arab American Studies. She is the author of Arabs and Muslims in the Media: Race and Representation after 9/11 (New York University Press, forthcoming 2012). She is co-editor (with Rabab Abdulhadi and Nadine Naber) of Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging (Syracuse University Press, 2011) and (with Ella Shohat) of Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora (University of Michigan Press, forthcoming 2012). She is also guest curator of the Arab American National Museum’s online exhibit, Reclaiming Identity: Dismantling Arab Stereotypes.
Nadine Naber is an Associate Professor in Arab American Studies, the Program in American Culture and the Department of Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is author of Arab America: Gender, Cultural Politics and Activism (NYU Press). She is co-author of Race and Arab Americans (Syracuse University Press). Her research and teaching contribute to the field, Arab American Studies, by incorporating the methods and theories of Women of Color, Transnational, and Post-Colonial Feminist Studies. She has developed feminist analyses of the changing realities of race, gender, and religion among Arab Americans before and after September 11th. Nadine Naber is co-founder of the Arab Women’s Solidarity Association, North America (cyber AWSA) and Arab Movement of Women Arising for Justice (AMWAJ) and actively engaged in INCITE! Women of Color against Violence.
abu ghraib arias
abu ghraib arias is a poetic meditation on why torture happens and what torture does, both to its perpetrators and its victims. The book is a long poem that began out of the author’s vertiginous sense of being named but silenced as an Arab American, and out of the parallel sense of seeing Arabs named and silenced, since 9/11. The poem draws upon a number of sources: a Standard Operating Procedure manual for Camp Echo at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, the testimony of Abu Ghraib torture victims, the words of U.S. soldiers, the Bible, the Code of Hammurabi, and various other texts. Hilary Plum writes in the Kenyon Review, “[Metres] has created a text that incorporates both names and silence, that both names (the torturers) and aims to witness the silence, the violence they’ve inflicted by allowing space in the text, exerting pressure on the speech until it breaks.”
Philip Metres has written a number of books, most recently the chapbook abu ghraib arias and To See the Earth. Other books include: Come Together: Imagine Peace, Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront since 1941, Catalogue of Comedic Novelties: Selected Poems of Lev Rubinstein, A Kindred Orphanhood: Selected Poems of Sergey Gandlevsky, and three other chapbooks, Ode to Oil, Instants and Primer for Non-Native Speakers. His work has appeared in Best American Poetry, and Inclined to Speak: Contemporary Arab American Poetry and has garnered an NEA, a Watson Fellowship, four Ohio Arts Council Grants, and the Cleveland Arts Prize in 2010. He teaches literature and creative writing at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.
Jess Ptak is a Master of Arts candidate in English Literature at Mercy College. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature from Pace University in Pleasantville, New York. Jess lives in the Hudson Valley with her family, where she enjoys crafting handmade stationery and spending time with her husband and daughter.