Laila Lalami and Rabih Alameddine were the two headliners on the 2015 Arab-American Book Awards winners’ list. Both their winning novels have already taken major laurels:
Alameddine’s acclaimed An Unnecessary Woman was a finalist for the US’s National Book Award, while Lalami’s The Moor’s Account was a Pulitzer finalist, a winner of the American Book award, and is currently longlisted for the Man Booker. These two novels make for unusually high-profile co-winners of this year’s AABA fiction prize, announced yesterday.
Other winning titles were Old Islam in Detroit: Rediscovering the Muslim American Past, by Sally Howell, which took the nonfiction prize; Tahrir Suite, by Matthew Shenoda, which took the George Ellenbogen Poetry Award; and The Turtle of Oman, by Naomi Shihab Nye, which took the children’s and young-adult award.
Nye has been on the AABA list twice before: with an honorable mention for her collection of poetry, Transfer, in 2012, and as the winner of the children and young-adult prize for her Honeybee in 2009.
There were also two honorable mentions this year. One was in poetry: And the Time Is…: Poems, 1958-2013, by Samuel Hazo. The other was in the children’s and young-adult category, for The Olive Tree, written by Elsa Marston and illustrated by Claire Ewart.
The authors will be honored during the Arab American Book Award ceremony and reception on Thursday, Oct. 29, in Dearborn, Michigan. The event is free and open to the public.
The awards, which are now in their ninth year, are sponsored by the Arab American National Museum, which recently began a new initiative to increase readership of Arab-American works and to encourage book clubs and educators to select books by Arab Americans: a set of reading & discussion guides for the award-winning titles. Guides for the 2014 winners, including Sinan Antoon’s The Corpse Washer, are available for free download at arabamericanmuseum.org/bookaward.
According to a news release from the Arab American National Museum, reading guides for 2015’s winning titles will be available soon.