Author Who Died in Syria Wins Arab American Book Award

In News by Adam Critchley

By Adam Critchley

Arab American Book PrizeAnthony Shadid, a journalist and twice winner of the Pulitzer Prize who died in Syria in 2012 while on assignment for the New York Times, has posthumously won the Evelyn Shakir Non-Fiction Award, part of the Arab American Book Award.

Shadid’s book, House of Stone. A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East, recounts his return to his native Lebanon in order to rebuild his great-grandfather’s estate, and how the reconstruction of the house served as a catalyst to rebuild his own strength after having been captured and beaten while covering the uprising in Libya in 2011.

The book was shortlisted for last year’s National Book Critics’ Circle Award.

Born in Oklahoma of Lebanese descent, Shadid was also posthumously honored at last year’s Arab American Book Award prize-giving ceremony with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

In the fiction category, Joseph Geha won with his novel Lebanese Blonde, a story set in the “Little Syria” community of Toledo, Ohio, during the 1970s.

The book tells the story of two immigrant cousins who hatch a scheme to smuggle the strand of hashish that gives the novel its title into the US at the start of the 15-year civil war that ravaged Lebanon from 1975-1990.

Geha, also of Lebanese descent and who was a professor emeritus of creative writing at Iowa State University, has also published a collection of short stories set in the same Arab American community, “Through and Through: Toledo Stories.”

The children’s and young adult category was won by Susan L. Roth and Karen Leggett Abouraya, for their illustrated book Hands Around the Library: Protecting Egypt’s Treasured Books, which chronicles the true story of how thousands of students, demonstrators and librarians surrounded the Library of Alexandria by forming a human chain to prevent its sacking in January 2011.

The poetry category was won by Palestinian American Hala Alyan, with Atrium. Her poem “Maktoub” was nominated for the 2012 Pushcart Prize.

The Arab American Book Award is organized by the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, where the prizes will be awarded on November 2.

About the Author

Adam Critchley

Adam Critchley is a Mexico-based freelance writer and translator. His articles have been published in Latin American Literature Today, Brando, Forbes, GQ, Gatopardo, Publishers Weekly, Travesías and Vinísfera, among other publications, and his short stories have appeared in The Brooklyn Review, El Puro Cuento and Storyteller-UK. His translations include a series of children's books based on indigenous Mexican folk tales. He can be contacted at