Malaka Gharib wins an Arab American Book Award

‘I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir’ took home the award in the Children/Young Adult category.

Malaka Gharib‘s I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir has been awarded an Arab American Book Award, in the Children/Young Adult category.

“It’s tremendous that my experience as a Filipino Egyptian American is being recognized & lifted up by the Arab American community,” Gharib said on Twitter.

The graphic memoir was published by Penguin Random House last year, and details Gharib’s experiences while growing up as a Filipino-Egyptian in the United States. It explores questions of race, identity and belonging in different ways, as she learns to “code-switch” between her family’s Filipino and Egyptian customs.

“The book helped me realize that I had so much to say about race and identity,” Gharib told Alex Dueben in an interview earlier this year. “More than I thought. It was a difficult process. I learned maybe some of the reasons why I felt like an outsider when I was in high school was because I didn’t really fit in with the people who were in my prescribed ethnic group and because I was mixed. I also realized how much of a lonely childhood I had. Writing the book was helping me to shake hands with my former self and move on. Feeling like an outsider was probably my biggest hangup I’ve had my whole life, and I don’t think I ever said it out loud and processed it the way I was able to in this book.”

In her day job, Gharib is a writer and editor at NPR., and when she’s not doing that or making award-winning graphic novels, she works on The Runcible Spoon, a zine about food and fantasy she’s been making since 2010.

You can see the complete list of winners in the other categories here.

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