the author on a camel in the Moroccan Sahara

I am curious to find an award category for my book: Untold. Never mind actually winning, I’m just looking for a match.  In the words of the late Ogden Nash, the book is a churkendoose – chicken, turkey, duck and goose. It is poetry, but it’s not a poetry book. It is biography and academic history, and yes, women’s studies. The alchemy is powerful and forges it into a what? Non-fiction  women’s historical biography.

The words “Prophet Muhammad” are in the title. That makes it  a bit edgy like Black History, only Martin Luther King is more PC with many Americans.

I love this book because it moves toward easing tension between the Islamic world and the USA. Is there a slot for that important job in the arena of awards? Then there is the chapter on the Jewish wives. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone acknowledged that Prophet Muhammad had two Jewish wives? Israel, for instance? You can  see how this book may be sitting alone somewhere.

California first lady Maria Shriver introduces Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winning poet Mary Oliver (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

There’s always big American prizes for literature and poetry, with Mary Oliver hugging Maria Shriver on the right. Here are some less well known acknowledgements:

FAB Book Award (Burntwood Secondary school award – winner chosen by the students). I love the name of the award and wish I could talk to them.

Brass Crescent Award (this promotes the best writing of the Muslim Webblogs). That’s good, but then there’s The Frederick J. Streng Book Award, limited to Buddhist – Christian books.

The esteemed Anisfield-Wolf Book Prize…”understanding of racism and our appreciation of the rich diversity of human cultures…” But I’ll bet you need to be a person of color to even be considered for that.

Here’s one that I’m sure has never been won by a woman: The Sheik Zayed Book Award, “one of the most prestigious and well-funded prizes in the Arab world,” named after the deceased ruler of Abu Dhabi. Last year’s literature winner was  Dr. Ibrahim al-Kawni, Libyan author of The Call of What Was Far.

The Humbolt Research Award is for an academic. The Middle East Studies Association (MESA from University of Arizona) listed more than thirty books on topics that seemed similar to Untold, but every single book had a University Press behind the title, like the poetry prizes awarded only to MFA graduates. Forget it.

For The Arab American Book Award you need to be an Arab – it’s not books on Arab themes in America.

The only possible thing I found was IBA International Book Awards, “Honoring Knowledge, Creativity, Wisdom  & Global Cooperation through the Written Word.”  That sounds good. The deadline is April 30, 2011.

Sometimes it feels good to dare to dream.  <>

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