2011 Arab American Book Award Winners Announced

It wasn’t a tremendously wide field—just 28 books were submitted to Arab American Book Award (AABA) judges—but the AABA’s four winners and three  honorable mentions are certainly worth a look.

Fiction: The winner was Thérèse Soukar Chehade’s Loom, which also  made Granta’s Best of 2010 (fiction).  According to Granta‘s Kamila Shamsie, Chehade “writes like a dream.”

There was no honorable mention in fiction.

Poetry: This years’ award went to Khaled Mattawa‘s very deserving Tocqueville.  I don’t know  if this is an authorized excerpt, but you can read the whole first section online.

The honorable mention went to This Isa Nice Neighborhood by Farid Matuk. You can read a “sampler” of Matuk on The Boston Review.

Non-fiction:The winner was Arab Americans in Toledo: Cultural Assimilation and Community Involvement, edited by Samir Abu-Absi. I have to admit, the title sounds a little dry to me, but it could certainly be an interesting portrait of a community. From the AABA news release: “This collection of essays, profiles, and oral history interviews captures the memories, experiences and character of one of America’s most significant ethnic populations by focusing on their community in Toledo, Ohio.”

The honorable mention in non-fiction went to Barefoot in Baghdad by Manal M. Omar.

Children/YA: The winner in this category was the middle-grade Saving Sky by Diane Stanley. The runner-up was Time to Pray, written by Maha Addasi and illustrated by Ned Gannon.

The judges weren’t named in the news release; they were just noted as: “groups of selected readers including respected authors, university professors, artists and AANM [Arab American National Museum] staff.”

Winners will be honored at a September ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Also: The current issue of Guernica is Arab-American themed, curated by Randa Jarrar.  It includes selections from Diana Abu-Jaber, Patricia Sarrafian Ward, Laila Halaby, Youmna Chlala, and Alia Yunis.