The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Impact and Legacy Fund recently announced that Susan Muaddi Darraj, Associate Professor of English at Harford Community College, has been named a recipient of one of the new Stephen Fraser Encouragement Awards. The award was established to provide stipends to three published authors, illustrators, or translators of books for young readers.
According to an article in Publisher’s Weekly, Muaddi Darraj hopes to use the Encouragement Fund to attend a residency or a retreat. She’s currently working on two projects: a young adult novel about a Palestinian American girl who uncovers a family secret, and a chapter book series about a boy named Jamal who loves second grade, baseball, and his friends.
Susan said, “I write every day, from 5 a.m. until 6:30 a.m., but I do most of my significant writing in the summer. This summer, with the help of this award, I am hoping to spend two weeks at a residency to get some focused time on a new book.”
Throughout her career, Muaddi Darraj has been recognized for her literary talent. Her short story collection, A Curious Land: Stories from Home, was named the winner of the AWP Grace Paley Prize for Short Fiction, judged by Jaime Manrique. It also won the 2016 Arab American Book Award, a 2016 American Book Award, and was shortlisted for a Palestine Book Award. Her previous short story collection, The Inheritance of Exile, was published in 2007 by University of Notre Dame Press.
In 2018, she was named a Ford Fellow by USA Artists. She was also awarded a Rubys Artist Grant from the Greater Baltimore Cultural Alliance and a grant from the Sustainable Arts Foundation.
In 2019, she launched the viral #TweetYourThobe social media campaign to promote Palestinian culture. Later that year, she was named winner of the Rose Nader Award by the American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), an award given by the Nader family to a person who “demonstrates an unwavering dedication and commitment to values of equality and justice.”
In January 2020, Capstone Books launched her debut children’s chapter book series, Farah Rocks, about a smart, brave Palestinian American girl named Farah Hajjar. The first book in the series, Farah Rocks Fifth Grade, made The Baltimore Sun’s “Books for the Beach” list.
In 2019, she penned a viral op-ed piece for Inside Higher Ed, titled “No Shame in Our Game,” about the importance and quality of a community college education. It can be read here: https://www.insidehighered.com/advice/2019/05/31/people-higher-ed-should-stop-disdaining-those-who-attend-or-work-community
Last year, Muaddi Darraj received a Maryland State Arts Council 2022 Independent Artist Award. She was one of the two state awardees who received a $25,000 grant in recognition of outstanding artistic achievement.
A 2018 USA Ford Fellow, Muaddi Darraj has also served as a Lecturer in the Johns Hopkins University’s MA in Writing program and as a faculty member in Fairfield University‘s MFA program.
She earned a BA and MA from Rutgers State University of New Jersey.