Rabih Alameddine, a Lebanese-American fiction and essay writer known for his diverse and multifaceted storytelling, is the 2019 winner of the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature—a premier literary award given annually by Longwood.
Described as an East-meets-West comedic clash of cultures layered with biting humor, Alameddine’s work examines topics such as sexuality, exile, alienation and integration. He was a finalist for the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award in 2014, the same year he won the California Book Awards Gold Medal Fiction for An Unnecessary Woman.
Rabih Alameddine’s work explores topics such as sexuality, exile, alienation and integration (Photo by Oliver Wasow).
Alameddine, who divides his time between San Francisco and Beirut, will be awarded the Dos Passos Prize at a campus ceremony at 7 p.m. April 2, 2020, in Blackwell Ballroom. He will also visit classes and read selections from his works.
“Rabih Alameddine’s work offers this rare and powerful mixture of real sadness, sharp wit, political importance and intellectual playfulness,” said Brandon Haffner, assistant professor of English at Longwood and chair of the Dos Passos Prize committee. “To read his work is to engage the whole of you—the brain works to keep up, the heart aches and pines, the belly laughs, the muscles are tensed. Readers [are] challenged, provoked, bewildered.”
Alameddine wrote his first novel, Koolaids: The Art of War, in 1996, inspired by the breakup of a relationship. His other novels are I, the Divine: A Novel in First Chapters, The Hakawati, An Unnecessary Woman and The Angel of History: A Novel. He published The Perv, a collection of stories, in 1999.
Alameddine is the 38th recipient of the Dos Passos Prize, the oldest national literary prize given by a college or university in Virginia. The selection committee looks for works that explore American themes, experiment with form and encompass a range of human experiences.